West Cork driver Daniel Cronin came from behind to win Sunday’s 25th anniversary Banna Beach Resort Kerry Winter Rally on the sixth and final stage.
Cronin, from Ballylickey, and his co-driver Shane Buckley from Faha, just outside Killarney were driving the Cronin family Subaru Impreza World Rally for the first time on tarmac.
They took a few stages to settle in to the their new mount but set a string of fastest times over the middle part of the rally to set up an exciting final stage showdown.
Long-time leader and defending champion Mike Quinn started the last stage, near the village of Kilflynn with a four second advantage but the local hero was unable to keep off the challenge of Cronin who went 12 seconds quicker over the test to win the rally by just eight seconds.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]
Winning Crew: Daniel Cronin & Shane Buckley – Subaru Impreza World Rally
©Image courtesy of Martin Walsh[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]It was the Cronin’s and Buckley’s first win but the third on this event for the well-known motorsport family from West Cork. His uncle Denis won the rally back in 1995 and his brother Keith, a three-time British Rally Champion, is a past double winner of this popular end of season rally.
Quinn, who won the rally last year after 18 years of trying was gallant in defeat. He admitted at the final stage finish near Finuge that his rival simply drove better and faster over the final loop of stages and accepted he was far too cautious through the penultimate test at Smearlagh River.
There was heartbreak too for Killarney’s Rob Duggan. The Mitsubishi Lancer driver had really taken the fight to Quinn over the opening loop of stages. The two Kerry crews tied for time on stage one, Duggan went eight seconds faster on the second test, only to lose that exact amount of time on stage three and level the contest again. It all fell apart for Duggan on stage four when his car picked up a right front puncture and he and co-driver Noel O’Sullivan lost over six minutes when they stopped to change it.
Third place went to Shanagolden’s Ed Synan who had local Kilflynn-based co-driver Denis O’Connell on pacenote duty. It was the Ford Escort crew’s first outing since The Circuit of Munster in June and it took them a few stages to get settled in.
There were plenty of other Kerry success stories in the top ten with Tom Relihan and Maurice McElligott taking fourth overall in their Ford Escort Mk1.
The top all Kerry Motor Club crew and winners of the prestigious Donal O’Flaherty Memorial Cup were Dave Murphy and John Gleeson in their Escort. They finished eighth overall. One place behind were the North Kerry pairing of Tim Enright and Stephen Buckley while Killarney’s Tadgh O’Sullivan and Eoin O’Leary rounded off the top ten.
Local class winners included Tralee’s Darren Young and Sean Walsh who topped the time sheets in the 1600cc Front-wheel-drive class in their Honda Civic. Ballybunnion’s Jason Costello won the rear-wheel drive category in the same class and also sealed the class title in the Top Part West Coast Rally championship – the event being the final round of the club man series.
Next up on the local rally scene is the Rentokil-Intial Killarney Historic Rally on November 30.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]