irish tarmac rally championship

Cronin Plays Down Home Advantage

This weekend sees the 2024 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship contenders gather in Clonakilty for the second round of the series, the ever popular West Cork Rally.  For championship leader, Keith Cronin, the West Cork can reliably be categorised as his home event, hailing as he does from the village of Ballylickey, less than an hour away from the headquarters town.   Together with co-driver, Mikie Galvin, Cronin took a comprehensive victory on the opening Tarmac round in Galway last month, on what was their first outing in the M O'Brien Group of Companies/Lyons of Limerick/Shane Casey Electrical Services Ford Fiesta Rally 2, and while he will obviously be hoping for a similar outcome this time around, he is not relying on the location to afford him any assistance, nor is he underestimating the task in hand.  

"Although I've been rallying for twenty years, I haven't actually done the West Cork that many times, I think it's only three, and the most recent of them was in 2016", said Cronin.  "Lads like Josh Moffett and Callum Devine have much more experience, and recent familiarity, with the stages down here", he added.  "Much of my rallying over the years has been abroad, in the UK mainly, and I wouldn't have as much done in Ireland as some others, so the home advantage thing doesn't really apply.  Obviously, you don't have the effort and time travelling to some other part of the country, but beyond that, you still have to make the pacenotes, drive the car, and set the times, just like anywhere else".  

Josh Moffett and his co-driver, Andy Hayes, who are going for a hat-trick of West Cork victories, are seeded at number one this weekend in a Citroen C3 Rally 2.  They will be followed over the start ramp by reigning Tarmac champions, Callum Devine and Noel O'Sullivan, in a Volkswagen Polo GTi R5, with Cronin and Galvin seeded at three in the Fiesta.  Matt Edwards, like Cronin a multiple British Champion, will start at number four in another Fiesta, guided by Corkman, David Moynihan.  The presence of World Championship WRC2 crew, William Creighton and Liam Regan, who start at five in a works M-Sport Fiesta, adds an intriguing element to the mix.

Over the event's forty-six year history, only three local drivers have won the West Cork Rally, Donal O'Donovan, Liam McCarthy and Denis Cronin, Keith's uncle.  Keith is under no illusions as to his chances of becoming the fourth name on the list: "It'll be very competitive, that much is certain", he said.  "I expect that Josh will have the Citroen well set-up and sorted since Galway, he'll be going all out for three in a row.  Callum didn't win the Tarmac Championship by chance, Matt is well used to the Irish stages, and William Creighton is now a regular at WRC level.  It will be hard fought and hard won", he added.

This year sees the West Cork Rally expand to a three-day format for the first time, with four stages taking place on Friday afternoon and evening, two of which will run in darkness.  These will be followed by eight stages on Saturday and six on Sunday, making up almost 260 competitive kilometres in total.

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.

West Cork Rally 2024 - Timetable (First Car Due)
Friday 15th March 2024
Scrutiny: Clonakilty Car Centre - 07:00 to 12:00 (No public access)

Parc Fermé Out: Clonakilty Showgrounds - 15:30
Service Out: West Cork Technology Park - 16:05

Stage 1: Ballinascarty - 16:28
Stage 2: Rossmore - 17:10

Service: West Cork Technology Park - 17:38

Stage 3: Ballinascarthy - 19:12
Stage 4: Rossmore - 19:54

Parc Fermé: Clonakilty Showgrounds - 20:25

Saturday 16th March 2024

Parc Fermé Out: Clonakilty Showgrounds - 08:30

Service Out: West Cork Technology Park  - 08:53

Stage 5: Clogagh - 09:18
Stage 6: Castletown - 09:53

Service:  West Cork Technology Park - 10:45

Stage 7: Clogagh - 12:03
Stage 8: Castletown   - 12:38

Service:  West Cork Technology Park - 13:30

Stage 9: Ring - 14:02
Stage 10: Dunworley   - 14:32

Service:  West Cork Technology Park - 15:11

Stage 11: Ring - 16:41
Stage 12: Dunworley - 17:11

Parc Fermé In: Clonakilty Showgrounds - 17:55

Sunday 17th March 2024
Parc Fermé Out: Clonakilty Showgrounds - 10:15

Service Out: West Cork Technology Park - 10:40

Stage 13: Ardfield - 10:58
Stage 14: Glandore - 11:30
Stage 15: Sam's Cross - 12:05

Service: West Cork Technology Park - 12:42

Stage 16: Ardfield - 13:50
Stage 17: Glandore - 14:22
Stage 18: Sam's Cross - 14:57

Parc Fermé In: Clonakilty Showgrounds - 15:33

Podium Ceremony: Clonakilty Town Centre - 15:45 approx.

External Credits:

Keith Cronin Rallying/Image - Graham Lane.


Your donations allow us to continue delivering high-quality content, from in-depth articles to event coverage, ensuring RallyFish remains a valuable resource