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irish tarmac rally championship

Cronin and Galvin Return Home for Lakes Challenge

With two wins achieved so far this year on the Galway International and West Cork rallies, plus a second place finish recorded on the Circuit of Ireland, Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin head to their native southwest this weekend for the Assess Ireland International Rally of the Lakes as leaders of the 2024 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.  The Killarney-based event marks the halfway point of the Tarmac series, and while the Cork driver and his Kerry co-driver currently have the advantage at the head of the standings in the M O'Brien Group of Companies/Lyons of Limerick/Shane Casey Electrical Services Ford Fiesta Rally 2, Cronin is not becoming complacent about the threat presented by their championship rivals.

The winners of the Rally of the Lakes for the past two years, and reigning Tarmac champions, Callum Devine and Noel O'Sullivan, are seeded at No. 1 this weekend in their Volkswagen Polo GTi R5.  They will be followed over the Start Ramp in Killarney town centre on Friday evening by Cronin and Galvin, while Matt Edwards and David Moynihan will line up at No. 3, also in a Ford Fiesta Rally 2.

"Callum goes well on the Lakes, it seems to suit him, and of course Noel, his co-driver, is a Killarney native, they'll want the win after their couple of retirements in West Cork and on the Circuit of Ireland," notes Cronin when discussing his main challengers for rally and championship laurels.  "Matt's season is coming together more and more, he was getting closer to the pace as West Cork went on, and then he beat us to the Circuit of Ireland.  We can't really let him steal a march on us in Killarney, because the Donegal Rally is next and he's been very strong up there over the past couple of years."

While the West Cork Rally might be termed as Cronin's home event, some of the Saturday stages of the Rally of the Lakes, on the Beara Peninsula, are actually the closest of the year to his Ballylickey base.   Even though the Cod's Head and Ardgroom tests lie in Co. Cork, and the Tim Healy Pass traverses the county boundary from Kerry into Cork, the area has traditionally been Killarney & District Motor Club territory, and has regularly been included in the organisation's events for over forty years.

"It's certainly like a homecoming for Mikie and myself," says Cronin.  "The Beara stages are near me, we're both club members, and Mikie is from Killarney.  One of my first motorsport events was a Killarney and District Motor Club Autocross in Doyle's Quarry, as it was then, when I was in my teens.  While it'll be nice to see local faces and to be on familiar ground this weekend, it actually counts for very little once you're in the car, the same effort has to be made to put in the times as it would anywhere else, be it in Galway or Scotland or wherever.  In any event, I haven't actually taken part in the Rally of the Lakes since 2016, and only three times altogether, so I can't say I'll know the stages any better than any other driver.  It'll be a tough rally for everybody.  The weather could go any way at this time of the year, there have been some very pleasant May Bank Holiday weekends, and in other years the rally has been run in dreadfully heavy rain.  If it's extremely wet or very dry, then it's usually straightforward in terms of tyre choice, if it's in between or mixed, as we saw on the Circuit of Ireland, then things become more challenging."

The 'Lakes' opens with the iconic Molls Gap stage on Saturday morning - the famous test between Killarney and Kenmare features just once on the itinerary this year.  Two loops of The Healy Pass, Cod's Head and Ardgroom follow during the course of the day, with Service in Castletownbere after each run over the Healy Pass.  The final stage of the day is Kilmackillogue, before the crews head back to Killarney for the overnight halt.  Sunday's action is in the Rathmore and Gneeveguilla areas, east of Killarney, and features six stages in all, consisting of two loops of Gortnagane, Meentoges and Ballintourig, with one service in the middle of the day, at the Liebherr factory in Fossa.

Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin are supported by M O’Brien Group of Companies, Lyons Motor Group, Shane Casey Electrical Services, Molson Equipment, Pirelli, EARS Motorsport Ireland, Cronin’s Centra (Ballylickey, Union Hall, Leap, Millstreet and Dundrum), Cronin’s HomeValue Hardware, Westlink Service Station and Daybreak Shop, Cremin Coaches, Keohane Seafoods, M-Sport and Wurth Ireland.

Assess Ireland Killarney International Rally of the Lakes 2024 - Top Ten Seeds

1: Callum Devine/Noel O'Sullivan, Volkswagen Polo GTi R5

2: Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

3: Matt Edwards/David Moynihan, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

4: Jonathan Greer/Niall Burns, Citroen C3 Rally 2

5: Cathan McCourt/Brian Hoy, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

6: Declan Boyle/Patrick Walsh, Citroen C3 Rally 2

7: David Kelly/Dean O'Sullivan, Volkswagen Polo GTi R5

8: Eddie Doherty/Tom Murphy, Skoda Fabia Evo Rally 2

9: Garry Jennings/Ger Conway, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

10: Michael Boyle/Dermot McCafferty, Volkswagen Polo GTi R5

External Credits:

Keith Cronin Rallying/Image - Jakob Ebrey Photography


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