Champion Cronin happy with third place
Keith Cronin had every reason to look on the bright side. The reigning British champion may have slipped to third place on the final stage of the Pirelli Rally, the opening round of the 2018 series, but he could see the positives in a solid start to the defence of his title.
It was little more than a week ago that Cronin landed a deal to contest the series in an R5 Hyundai i20 and had just one test day in the car ahead of his first event of the season.
Even so he led initially before being overhauled by Matt Edwards and then Rhys Yates in the closing stages through the Kielder forests.
"I was a bit disappointed to lose out on the last stage but everything on the car was great, maybe I was a little rusty," said the four-time champion from Ballylickey, Co Cork.
"Compared to the first three events last year when we were in no man's land, I feel we have a better start to build on this year."
For Edwards, who replaced Cronin in the M-Sport team's Ford Fiesta, it was his first BRC victory, taking the win from the Skoda Fabia of Yates by eight seconds. Cronin was just three seconds behind in third.
Marty McCormack and Jonny Greer made it three Irish drivers in the top five. Further back William Creighton finished third in the British Junior category with James Wilson fourth.
Meanwhile, Kris Meeke could only curse his luck as a puncture cost a potential podium place in Rally Argentina.
The Dungannon driver lost over two minutes, eventually finishing seventh, but for almost all of the first two days he was in the top three until his Citroen hit a rock on Saturday's final stage.
Toyota's Ott Tanak dominated the rally, winning comfortably from the Hyundai's of Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo.