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History-making Cronin conquers Belgium

Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin were the top Prestone MSA British Rally Championship crew on the legendary Ypres Rally – the championship's first overseas round in its 59-year history.

The Irish pairing expertly guided their M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 to victory on the fourth round of the BRC and mixed it with the best in Europe, finishing an impressive sixth in the overall event.

Twenty demanding stages held in both daylight and darkness were centre stage as the historic venue played host to a festival-like atmosphere as the BRC show came to the Belgian city, with thousands of rally fans descending to take in the top-drawer action.

To succeed in Flanders, bravery is key - and an eye for cuts. Cut corners too much, and you are heading for a puncture and an early bath. Don’t cut at all though, and you risk skating around, losing ground on the mud and grass dragged out by your competitors.

Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin stole the initial march in their DMACK-backed Fiesta R5. The Irish crew were at home on the Tarmac from the off and used their Evo2 upgrade on the Fiesta to good effect, stretching an early lead on the opening loop of stages.

The second day saw a change in weather with a temperature drop and light rain throughout the region. It was to be another challenging yet exciting day for the BRC crews.

Cronin showed why he is a three-time BRC champion as he meticulously danced his Fiesta through the cuts to stretch his margin to a over a minute, claiming his first BRC win since 2012 and lifting the Tony Pond Award for the highest placed BRC driver. The Trophy was presented by Pond’s co-driver Fred Gallagher at the ceremonial finish.

Keith Cronin said:

“It feels really good to win this tough event. We had a good fight with Fredrik [Åhlin] until he went off and when that happened, that changed the whole approach to the rally.

“I was very cautious and stayed in the middle of the road and we got the result. It’s such a famous rally and to get a good result is brilliant. The British championship's visit here has been a success.

“Coming into this round, we thought we were out of the championship challenge but now we are in with a fighting chance and things are looking better.”