british rally championship

Cronin Confident But Cautious Ahead Of BRC Opener

Fresh from their victory on the West Cork Rally last weekend, Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin commence their 2024 British Championship campaign on Saturday with the North West Stages Rally, which will be based in the Lancashire town of Garstang.  Having also won the Galway International Rally last month, the Killarney and District Motor Club crew are in a strong position at the top of the Irish Tarmac Championship points table, and will be hoping for an equally positive start in the British series.

While Cronin is in a confident frame of mind heading to the English event, he regards his chances of three wins in a row as perhaps a bridge too far.  "It's a busy start to the year for us, that much is certain, and it's gone very well so far", he said.  "We had Galway last month, West Cork last weekend, the North West Stages is on Saturday, and we're back for the Circuit of Ireland the following weekend.  The North West is a new event for us and there is a very strong line-up there, so we have to be realistic.  A podium would be a great result for us, and to get some solid points on the board early on.  There's six rounds in the British Championship this year, three on tarmac and three on gravel, and the first one is a closed road tarmac event, so that at least will be a help to us since we've just done three days in West Cork, although the surface over there can be very different to that in Ireland, what works here in terms of suspension set-up may not work in Lancashire, or in Scotland and Wales for the other closed road rounds".

As Cronin alludes to, the BRC has attracted much interest from competitors for 2024, and registrations are significantly up on previous years.  This is no doubt fuelled in part by the fact that the championship will be televised on ITV4 and ITVX throughout the season, plus the introduction of a calendar which sees all rounds take place in Great Britain, thus reducing costs for the majority English, Scots and Welsh crews.

"The organisers have done a lot of work to boost the BRC, they have to be given credit where it's due, and the strength of the field for the North West is a reflection of that", noted Cronin.  "Osian Pryce beat us to the BRC title in 2022, Meirion Evans came across to Ireland and won some of the Tarmac Championship rounds over the past couple of years, and William Creighton set some fastest times in West Cork at the weekend, he's going very well in the Rally 2 car so early in his career.  Chris Ingram has to be the favourite though, he won the North West Stages on the most recent time in ran in 2022, he's a former European champion, he has an amount of rallying done across the continent.  He went to a rally in France last year and was only a second or two off Sebastian Loeb, a nine-time World Champion, and that was on long stages, he's definitely the man everyone else will be watching".

The news revealed this week that Ingram will be in a new Toyota GR Yaris Rally 2 from round three onwards (he will drive a Volkswagen Polo GTi R5 in the interim) has certainly added an additional dimension to the BRC.  He and Meirion Evans will form a two-car Toyota line-up, and Evans will have a Yaris from the outset this weekend, marking the first ever appearance of the model on a UK rally.  Its pace relative to the M-Sport built Fiestas of Cronin, Pryce and Creighton will be watched with great interest.

The Legend Fires North West Rally will consist of ten stages in all, a loop of five repeated, with the first getting underway at 9am.  "Tyre choice will be absolutely crucial, especially if conditions are in any way mixed, which of course they could well be in March", said Cronin.  "We get to pick our tyres in the morning before the start, and there's only one service during the day after that to change them, so it has be right, otherwise you'll just be at sea", added the Cork driver.

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.

Legend Fires North West Stages Rally 2024

Top Ten Seeds

1 Chris Ingram/Alex Kihurani, Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

2 Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

3 Osian Pryce/Rhodri Evans, Ford Fiesta Rally2

4 Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson, Toyota GR Yaris Rally2

5 William Creighton/Liam Regan, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

6 Mark Kelly/Will Atkins, Skoda Fabia R5

7 James Williams/Ross Whittock, Hyundai i20 Rally2

8 Callum Black/Jack Morton, Ford Fiesta Rally2

9 Paul MacKinnon/Keir Beaton, Hyundai I20 R5

10 Garry Pearson/Daniel Barritt, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

Legend Fires North West Stages Rally 2024


Friday 22 March

Scrutiny, Myerscough College, Garstang, 12:00-18:00

Ceremonial Start, High Street, Garstang,18:30 - 21:00

Saturday 23 March (First Car Due)

Stage 1, Beacon Fell 1, 09:00

Stage 2, Long Knots 1, 09:20

Stage 3, Crossgill 1, 10:05

Stage 4, Hawthorthwaite 1, 10:48

Stage 5, Nicky Nook 1, 11:04

Service, Myerscough College, Garstang, 11:29

Regroup, Myerscough College, Garstang, 12:19

Stage 6, Beacon Fell 2, 13:28

Stage 7, Long Knots 2, 13:48

Stage 8, Crossgill 2, 14:33

Stage 9, Hawthorthwaite 2, 15:16

Stage 10, Nicky Nook 2, 15:32

Ceremonial Finish, Cherestanc Square, Garstang, 16:10

External Credits:

Keith Cronin Rallying/Image -Martin Walsh


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