Cronin sets his sights on points not Ypres prizes in BRC title bid
It was on the Ypres Rally in Belgium a year ago that Keith Cronin kick-started his successful challenge for a fourth British Championship.
Now he's hoping the unique event along the deceptively tricky tarmac roads of Flanders can launch him to a fifth title in a fifth different make of car.
He took maximum BRC points last year in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta but has since switched to an R5 Hyundai i20, and earlier this week had the benefit of a test session alongside the Korean manufacturer's World Championship leader Thierry Neuville, who is again stepping down to an R5 Hyundai to support his home event.
However, Neuville was one of many drivers caught out by the narrow roads criss-crossing the First World War battlefields last year. Marty McCormack, Desi Henry and David Bogie all saw their British Championship hopes ruined there but Cronin survived to propel himself up the BRC table.
This year, the Cork-born champion took third place on round one, the Pirelli International, behind Matt Edwards and Rhys Yates but, after a recent warm-up win on the Circuit of Munster, Cronin is optimistic Ypres will provide a launch pad for the rest of the BRC season.
Kris Meeke was the last driver from the British Isles to win the rally but Cronin says he isn't aiming to emulate him.
"I won't be looking too much at the battle for the overall win, and certainly not what Neuville is doing. For me, BRC points are the target," he said.
McCormack is fourth in the Championship and is determined to avoid a repeat of last year when he crashed his Skoda almost as soon as the rally had started.
He and Cronin lead an Irish challenge which also includes Junior title contenders William Creighton, Marty Gallagher, James Wilson, Josh McErlean and Johnnie Mulholland.
Joining them on an event which begins with a qualifying stage tomorrow is Sam Moffett, who wrested the Irish Tarmac Championship lead away from brother Josh on the Donegal Rally at the weekend. He is not part of the BRC contingent but is taking up his prize drive from the M-Sport Ford team after winning the Tarmac title last year.