Cronin Pips Higgins to Claim Bulldog International Rally Victory After a titanic battle, the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales has been won by Irishmen Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 as they finished a narrow ...
Cronin Pips Higgins to Claim Bulldog International Rally Victory
After a titanic battle, the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales has been won by Irishmen Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 as they finished a narrow nine seconds ahead of former champion Mark Higgins and co-driver Bryan Thomas in their Subaru Impreza N11 on the 82-mile Bala-based event.
Cronin pushed Higgins throughout the entire day in a close battle, with Higgins having a three second advantage heading into the sixth and final test after leading from the outset. But Higgins encountered a problem in the final stage when they hit a pothole and damaged the suspension, which allowed Cronin to push ahead to claim his first ever victory in the UK forests and maximum points in round one of the BRC on their debut in the series.
The victory puts Cronin and Shinnors in the lead of the British Rally Championship (BRC) and the driver, who crashed out of the event in 2008, said: "It's not quite sunk in yet but I couldn't ask for more really at the start of the season. We've never had any luck much over in the UK until today, but luck was on our side. On the penultimate stage we bent the back wheel and it was hard to drive but we made it."
Welshman Stuart Jones and co-driver Andy Bull were third in their Mitsubishi and made it home despite having a roll on stage three, in which they only sustained superficial damage, as well as a puncture on stage one. Fourth place went to Adam Gould and Sebastian Marshall in their Subaru Impreza followed by the Scottish pair of David Bogie and Kevin Rae in their Mitsubishi and fellow Scotsmen Dave Weston Jnr and Neil Shanks in their Impreza.
There were three winners in the Bulldog Historic Rally, the opening round of the Dunlop/Gambia 2009 British Historic Rally Championship.
Nick Elliot and Dave Price took the overall victory in their Mk2 Ford Escort and claimed the win in Category D. They set the pace over three of the four stages on the 50-mile event. Category C was won by former British champion David Higgins and Ieuan Thomas in their Ford Escort, who also finished fifth overall. The crew had an off on one stage and lost a bit of time. Higgins also battled on despite putting a metal rod through his hand at work midweek and was driving more or less one-handed. Son and father crew, Jonathan and Graham Gale, won Category B in their Sunbeam Tiger and were 15th overall.
The Bulldog Challenge followed the International Rally over a shorter route and was won by Welsh crew Matt Edwards and Andy Murphy who also took the honours in the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy in their Ford Fiesta ST. They finished a comfortable two and three quarter minutes ahead of the Fiesta of Luke Francis and Jon Madoc-Jones.
The fourth and final event on the oversubscribed rally was the Bulldog Clubman Rally, which featured many local club rally drivers. Michael O'Brien and Ian Allsop took the honours in their Ford Focus WRC. They finished over a minute ahead of the Ford Escort Cosworth of Ian Joel and Graeme Wood.
The event was a credit to the organisers, who turned it around into an International status event to be included in the BRC in just five months since the last time it was run.
It was Clerk of the Course Kevin Witton's first time in charge on an International event and he commented: "It's gone really well and it's been an exciting rally with the close battle for the win. I'd like to thank all the marshals, organising committee, officials and competitors for making it a good day and our sponsors Bulldog."
Bulldog International Rally Results:
1. Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors Mitsubishi 1:20:59.7
2. Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas Subaru 1:21.08.7
3. Stuart Jones/Andy Bull Mitsubishi 1:23:20.3
4. Adam Gould/Sebastian Marshall Subaru 1:24:09.9
5. David Bogie/Kevin Rae Mitsubishi 1:24:30.6
Out And About... (courtesy of Amanda Cornforth)
Russell Brookes showed his age at the Charity Forum on Friday night, and his skill, by admitting he'd done all the testing for the Austin Allegro!
John Trevethick, Historic Clerk of Course, borrowed International service park co-ordinator Neil Dodd's bicycle to go down the road to see the BRC Challenge service park and promptly fell off! JT came back and had to have plasters applied to his fingers by St John's Ambulance!
Mark Higgins: "I'm not driving very well yet, I feel really rusty."
Stuart Jones: "I'm rusty; I've not driven in a Group N since September 2007."
It was Finland's Matti Rantanen's first ever event in the UK: "The roads are nice, but the weather conditions aren't so good" as it tried to hail, rain, sleet and blow a gale - it is Wales after all! Sadly they retired on SS4.
Chris Firth was driving on his first ever International rally but is doing the BRC this year. "We've had no scares so it's going well."
Wug Utting was asked if he was enjoying it, replied: "That's what I'm here for!"
Stefan Davis and Kim Baker had an eventful morning, the handbrake wasn't working, the throttle jammed open, they had a puncture and nudged some scenery in their Fiesta.
When Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor were asked if they were enjoying it they replied: "No, we're not winning. We're too fat I think."
Patrick Malley and Malcolm Read came all the way from New Zealand to run their Fiesta but retired in stage one with a fire.
Adam Gould after SS4: "That last one was hard work; it was a long, tiring stage."
Andreas Sjolander and Hakan Jacobsson came all the way from Sweden for the event. It was Andreas' first time driving a 4WD car and they had no brakes on stages 3 and 4.
Chris Firth's co-driver Martyn Taylor said after stage 4: "There were a couple of backside-clenching moments in that one!" On commenting that the car looked quite clean at the front Chris said: "Oh yeah, we're just taking it steady and avoiding the ruts and potholes."
Mark Gamble replied when asked why the front bumper was missing said: "It was co-driver error", "was it really??" "no but it's a good excuse."
From Historic Rally: Jonathan Gale and Graham Gale, who won Category B and finished 15th overall: "It's the first time the spectators were stepping back from the road, normally they just stand there."
David Bogie: "We're here anyway."
Adam Gould: "It's been a good start to the season."
Wug Utting: "We're there now so I'm going down the pub!"
All female crew Molly Taylor from Australia and Jemma Bellingham won the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup.
Jason Pritchard and Andrew Edwards won the Citroen C2 Racing Trophy.
North Wales: Ross Forde preview
North Wales: Stuart Jones event summary