Belfast Telegraph

Keith Cronin wants to avoid war with the French

By SAMMY HAMILL

Keith Cronin is one of the fastest young drivers in Europe and one of the most astute too.

Which is why he doesn't intend to get sucked into a battle with his French rivals on this week's Rally France.

The three-times British champion from west Cork is keeping his eyes on the big prize, a six rally programme on board a factory-prepared Citroen DS3 R5 in next year's World Championship.

The £420,000 prize is what is on offer at the end of the Citroen Top Driver series which runs within the WRC2 category. Cronin is currently second, four points behind leader Sebastien Chardonnet, of France.

To win the prize would allow Cronin to take a further step up the World championship ladder – one he could never afford without the support of a manufacturer like Citroen.

Cronin and his Fermanagh co-driver Marshall Clarke won the Finnish round and they have two other second places.

The French round, against local stars like Chardonnet and Quentin Gilbert, was always going to be the most difficult which is why Cronin is focusing on finishing rather than fighting for victory.

"We've been faced with a number of tough rallies this year, but I think this one will be the most competitive," explained the 2012 Rally NI winner.

"I've done two tarmac rallies in France before and I know how fast the French drivers are on home ground.

"I don't want to get caught up in a battle with them and make a mistake. We need to aim for a finish at our own pace and stay in contention for the final round in Wales."

The rally, which starts tomorrow, is based at Strasbourg on the border with Germany.

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