Keith Cronin secures Tarmac Rally Championship title as Moffett brothers take him to limit
Keith Cronin won the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship for the first time on the final round in Cork yesterday evening, but he only just squeezed over the line in a desperately tight finish which saw the Moffett brothers, Josh and Sam, take the top two places.
Cronin's anticipated head-to-head duel with championship leader Alastair Fisher petered out early when the Tyrone driver crashed out on just the fourth stage on Saturday. Fisher, who was intent on emulating his uncle Bertie as Tarmac champion, had edged ahead over the first three stages but on stage four his Fiesta clipped a bank, flipping the car over onto its roof.
His exit left Cronin in the lead and needing only a top three place to secure the title. But the triple British champion suffered a puncture late yesterday, costing him 40 seconds and dropping his Citroen DS3 back to fourth place as the Moffetts swept to the front in their R5 Ford Fiestas.
However, with Irish national champion Roy White finishing in third in his WRC Fiesta, but not included in the championship scoring, Cronin collected the points he needed to become the new champion. His DGM Citroen team-mate Jonny Greer finished fifth with Stephen Wright rounding out the top six in his Fiesta.
"I made it tough for myself. Despite trying to be careful and stay in the middle of the road I still got a puncture," said Cronin. "But it worked out in the end."
Strabane's Callum Devine won the R2 division in his little Opel Adam and was placed ninth place overall.
Kris Meeke's bid for a third successive World Rally Championship win ended with a Tour de Corse crash on Saturday but the Dungannon driver finished with a flourish yesterday, setting fastest times on the final two stages including the Power Stage.
His Citroen team-mate Craig Breen finished fifth as Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier took the victory to virtually ensure he becomes world champion for a fourth time in a row.
Hyundai's Thierry Neuville was second ahead of the VWs of Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala.