Keith Cronin surged to the front as Irish drivers dominated the opening stages of the Jim Clark Memorial Rally in the Scottish borders last night.
The 23-year-old British champion from Cork cruised through the opening spectator stage at Duns, only sixth fastest in his Subaru, but then moved up a gear to set quickest time on the 15-mile Abbey stage to open up an eight-second lead.
Waterford’s Craig Breen, who had been fastest on stage one, dropped to second place in his S2000 Ford Fiesta as Ulstermen Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer, this year’s championship leader, slotted their Mitsubishis into fourth and fifth places.
Only Welshman Gwyndaf Evans could keep pace with the Irish quartet, the former champion holding third place in his Mitsubishi. Owen Murphy was eighth in his Mitsubishi with Mark Donnelly leading the Citroen C2R2 Trophy contenders in 10th.
The Clark Rally is round three of the British championship and it was announced last night that it will return to the Citroen Irish Tarmac series next season.