Ireland's Keith Cronin and co-driver Barry McNulty stormed to victory on today's Bulldog International Rally of North Wales which comprised the opening round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.
The reigning Champion was quickest through five of the eight special stages to claim an emphatic win by over two minutes and beamed at the finish at the new Welshpool Livestock Market: "This has been one of the hardest rallies I have ever won. Trying to pick a pace was very difficult as it is easier when you are fighting for the lead. The car was faultless all day and I am delighted."
Scotsman Dave Weston Jnr with Ieuan Thomas on the notes claimed an impressive second place overall despite a puncture at the end of SS3. The youngster finished with a 26 second advantage over his nearest rival, Adam Gould.
Gould, co-driven by Craig Drew, had a frantic week in the build up to the rally to raise the budget and ensure his Subaru Impreza was ready to start the event. The Bristol driver admitted to being unprepared in the build up to the weekend but drove a faultless rally to claim third place, 15 seconds ahead of Euan Thorburn.
Thorburn and co-driver Paul Beaton brought their Subaru Impreza to the finish, 17 seconds ahead of Ulsterman Jonny Greer and co-driver Dai Roberts. Greer struggled to get into a rhythm in the earlier stages of the rally, and then a puncture through SS3 which in turn resulted in a broken wire affecting the differential on the Mitsubishi Lancer dropped him down the order early on.
Notable retirements were Gwyndaf Evans whose Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 stopped after SS2 with gearbox problems and Craig Breen's Fiesta S2000 came to a halt on the road section on the way into first service. Alastair Fisher retired after SS6 with transmission failure on his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
The event also made up round one of the Dunlop WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship.
Category 1 was claimed by Jonathan Gale and co-driver James Whittaker in their Sunbeam Tiger. They finished 37 seconds ahead of the Porsche 911 of Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride. Category 2 was won by Jeremy Easson and Alun Cook who crossed the finish ramp 36 seconds ahead of Andrew Haddon and Mark Crisp. Nick Elliott and Dave Price claimed victory in Category 3, bringing their Ford Escort home 25 seconds ahead of Julian Reynolds and Ian Oakley.
The BRC Challenge was won by Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford who finished the event 21 seconds ahead of Callum Black and Paul Wakley. Jonathan Cunningham and co-driver Richard Millener brought their Ford Fiesta ST back to the finish in third place, finishing a further 41 seconds adrift.
The Bulldog National Rally was won by Alex Allingham and Mark Glennerster who finished a mere five seconds ahead of Paul Davy and Roger Allan. Paul Walker and Mark Lewis claimed the final podium place, finishing a further 45 behind Davy.
Mike Tomkinson and Shaun Whitehurst won the Bulldog Clubman section of the event, bringing their Subaru Impreza home 17 seconds ahead of Paul Lomas and Matthew Nicholas. Neville Jones and Ian Capwell crossed the finish ramp a further 32 seconds adrift.
For full results visit www.bulldog-rally.co.uk.