Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship round 1 – Bulldog International Rally North Wales
ALL PHOTOS: PODGE NEWE
Keith Cronin and Barry McNulty took a fine win on the opening round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the Bulldog International Rally North Wales this weekend.
The reigning British Rally Champion has a 100% record of victory on the event having won in Wales last year and becomes the first of the Pirelli Star Driver winners to take outright event honours.
“We were a bit nervous coming into the event as there was a great deal expected of us,” said Cronin, “But we stuck to our plan and I’m obviously delighted to make such a good start to the championship season.”
Their victory in the Impreza coupled with a great fourth place from Pirelli TEG Sport team mates Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton, means that the Lancashire based outfit also start the season in an excellent position to defend their British Teams Rally Championship title.
The expected charge from last year’s Fiesta Sport Trophy Champions Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts was put to an end after the youngster’s Fiesta S2000 stopped after two stages. Gwyndaf Evans and Chris Patterson also failed to make it back to the first service with transmission problems, leaving Alastair Fisher and Rory Kennedy to take over second spot.
But the County Tyrone driver’s excellent drive was also cut short near the end of the day when differential failure led to a blown clutch and retirement too.
After a perfect build up to the season, winning the Border Counties Rally, Dave Weston Junior and Ieuan Thomas held their nerve to eventually take the runners-up spot, their Ramsport Impreza running faultlessly throughout the 100 mile event.
Third place went to Adam Gould and Craig Drew in an ex-Higgins Impreza, but they nearly didn’t make it to the start after punching a strut through the top mount on the shakedown. Running with practically no spares, the outgoing Pirelli Star Driver
In the Mitsubishi Evolution Ralliart Challenge, Jonny Greer and Dai Roberts took top spot in their Evo 9, missing fourth place on the event by just over seventeen seconds. The pair had an up and down event, a puncture costing time in he second loop but finishing strongly with a string of top three times.
Elfyn Evans and Andrew Edwards set some stunning times in their Fiesta ST to not only win the Fiesta SportTrophy section of the event and the Rally 3 class, but take the all-important Pirelli Star Driver yellow jersey on home turf.
Taking victory in the Citroën Racing Trophy and outright Rally 2 honours were Mark Donnelly and Paddy Robinson after a great day for the pair in their new steed.
Also taking a class win, that of Rally 1, as well as a deserved and crushing victory in the Swift Sport Cup, were Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship newcomers Mikko Pajunen and Janne Perala. The Finnish duo not only finished their first Rally North Wales, but posted some excellent times and ended the day 17th overall in the little Swift.
Action from the top runners on Bulldog Rally North Wales can be seen on Sky Sports this Monday night, but before that on Sunday is a chance to see the season preview programme again.
Full TV listings are available in the media section on the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship website at www.rallybrc.co.uk