Friday 24 November 2017

Motorsport: Cronin lands Driver of the Year award

Declan Quigley

KEITH CRONIN’S achievement in winning the British Rally Championship for the second successive year has earned the Ballylickey driver the Manley Memorial Trophy and the title of International Racing Driver of the Year.

Cronin was chosen by the motorsport media as the winner of the award for the second year, after sharing it last year with IRC star Kris Meeke. The 24-year-old is currently on holidays in Australia and has moved to refute recent speculation that he has retired from rallying following his British title defence.

“I am aware that there has been a large amount of speculation about my rallying future over the past few weeks,” said Cronin on his website. “Just to reassure anybody, I have not retired!”

Cronin beat off stiff competition for the prestigious award following an outstanding year for Irish competitors abroad, including a European Rallycross title for Derek Tohill, Patrick McKenna’s runner-up spot in USF2000 and Rob Barrable’s Citroen Junior title success in British and Irish rallying.

McKenna and Barrable, both Swords natives and former classmates, scooped the top gongs for up-and-coming racing and rally drivers. McKenna is currently in talks with three top Star Mazda Series teams in the US armed with the €50,000 budget assistance from Dunlop and the Irish Sports Council.

Barrable has a similar amount to top up his expenses for an anticipated campaign in the British Rally Championship. To that end, Barrable will journey to the Skoda factory in the Czech Republic to test an S2000 Fabia this Friday.

He also has an option on a Mitsubishi Evo 10 and, at the moment, is likely to run with his own team which helped him to success this year, in a programme that will include the British Championship, the Citroen Tarmac Series, the Rally Ypres in Belgium and the Barum Rally in the Czech Republic.

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