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irish tarmac rally championship

Cronin Wary Of Short Circuit

The 2024 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship resumes on Easter Saturday with the Circuit of Ireland, which will consist of eight stages in the Dungannon area.  While the compact event is currently very different to the five-day trek around the country of past decades, the Ulster Automobile Club organisers are hoping to tie-in with a club in the Republic to re-establish a cross-border element in future years.  For now, competitors and fans are presented with a short, sharp challenge in the form of two loops of four stages, with one Service during the single day of competive action.  Having taken victory on each of the two rounds held so far, Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin head the Tarmac standings in the M O’Brien Group of Companies/Lyons Motor Group/Shane Casey Electrical Services Ford Fiesta Rally 2.

While their Tarmac Championship challenge has been flawless to date, it was a different story on last weekend's North West Stages Rally in Lancashire, the opening round of the British Championship, which Cronin and Galvin are also tackling this year.  Their Fiesta broke a driveshaft and also suffered a malfunctioning launch control system and handbrake, which combined with other issues limited the Cork-Kerry pairing to seventh place in the final results, and left the Tom Gahan Motorsport mechanics with additional work to do ahead of the Circuit of Ireland, in the short turnaround available.

"We've had the dream start to the Tarmac Championship really, with the wins in Galway and West Cork", said Cronin.  "It's unusual to say it in rallying, but nothing has gone against us, the car clicked for us from the moment it arrived on the Thursday before Galway, the Pirellis are working very well, and we haven't had any spin or puncture or mechanical issue or anything like that.  Then we had all of those happen to us on the North West Stages on Saturday.  The nature of the sport is that you'll have days when things don't go right, sometimes it's within your control, sometimes not, but it does happen.  Hopefully all the car issues that were to arise did so in Lancashire, and we can have a clean run on the Circuit.  The last time I started it was in 2016, the year we won the Tarmac championship, and it was the only round we didn't finish, we actually crashed on the first stage.  Obviously then I don't have any recent experience of the stages, although I understand that at least some of them on this year's rally haven't been used for even longer than that, so that may level the playing field somewhat".

Callum Devine and Noel O'Sullivan line up at number one on Saturday in their Volkswagen Polo GTi.  They won the Circuit twelve months ago on their way to the 2023 Tarmac title, and will be endeavouring to recover lost ground this time following a non-finish in West Cork.  Cronin and Galvin are at No. 2, and they will be followed over the Start Ramp by Matt Edwards and David Moynihan, who took second-place points in the Clonakilty event, but crashed out in Galway in February.  Fourth seeds, Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes, are currently in second place in the Tarmac standings, eighteen points off Cronin and Gavin.  They have had a somewhat subdued start to the year, but did begin to get their new Citroen C3 working to their liking on the final day in West Cork.

"It will certainly be a sprint rather than a marathon, with only eight stages there will be no room for complacency at the start or easing into it gently, everyone will have to be on it from the beginning", says Cronin.  "I think there will be around 67 stage miles, the Saturday route alone in West Cork was longer than that.  Any mishap at all could ruin your chances of a result, there might not be the distance to make the time back.  By way of example, Callum and Noel were ahead of us after the Friday evening stages on the West Cork, we managed to get past them on the Saturday morning, but if that was to happen on the Circuit, if they or anyone else was to pull away out front early on, then the chance to overhaul them just might not be there".

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.

Circuit of Ireland Rally 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/Dave Moynihan, Ford Fiesta Rally 2
4: Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes, Citroen C3 Rally 2
5: Ryan Loughran/Gareth Doherty, Ford Fiesta Rally 2
6: Jonathan Greer/Niall Burns, Citroen C3 Rally 2
7: Desi Henry/Shane Byrne, Citroen C3 Rally 2
8: Cathan McCourt/Brian Hoy, TBC
9: David Kelly/Dean O' Sullivan, Volkswagen Polo GTi R5
10: Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy, Ford Fiesta Rally 2

Circuit of Ireland Rally 2024


Friday 29 March

Scrutiny, Granville Farmers' Market, Dungannon, 16:00 - 20:00

Saturday 30 March (First Car Due)

Ceremonial Start, Granville Farmers' Market, Dungannon, 09:30

Stage 1: Drummond 1, 09:44

Stage 2: The Hollow 1, 10:16

Regroup In: 10:48

Regroup Out: 11:03

Stage 3: Sweathouse 1, 11:15

Stage 4: Ivy Hill 1, 11:43

Regroup In: 12:10

Regroup Out/Service In: Granville Farmers' Market, Dungannon, 12:25

Service Out: Granville Farmers' Market, Dungannon, 12:55

Stage 5: Drummond 2, 13:09

Stage 6: The Hollow 2, 13:41

Regroup In: 14:13

Regroup Out: 14:28

Stage 7: Sweathouse 2, 14:40

Stage 8: Ivy Hill 2, 15:08

Regroup In: Granville Farmers' Market, Dungannon, 15:35

Regroup Out/Finish Ramp: Granville Farmers' Market, Dungannon, 15:45

Irish Tarmac Rally Championship 2024

Points Standings after two of seven rounds

1. Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin, 44 points;

2. Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes, 26;

3. Matt Edwards/David Moynihan, 19.5;

4. Callum Devine/Noel O'Sullivan, 18;

5. David Kelly/Dean O'Sullivan, 18.

External Credits:

Keith Cronin Rallying/Image - Jakob Ebrey Motorsport


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