Cronin is the king of Clonakilty after mighty West Cork Rally win

Samdec Security International ITRC

Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin cruised home over West Cork Rally’s six Sunday stages to ensure they recorded their second Irish Tarmac win of the year.

The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship leaders recorded a well-controlled 57.2-second victory over Wales’ Matt Edwards.

The Ford Fiesta Rally2 crew impressed on Saturday morning’s wet and foggy stages, gaining a rally lead they would hold onto for the rest of the 18-stage event.

“It was a tough rally, the conditions yesterday were really tough,” described Cronin. “We had a good lead overnight which was great.

“I would like to thank all the marshals and organisers, especially for yesterday, I don’t know how people stood out in that weather.

“It is a great result for us, great for the championship, but there is still a long way to go.

“Today we were driving very much within ourselves, we had a big lead overnight so we didn’t need to push at all today, we just tried to manage the gap.” 

The Ballylickey driver now holds a strong lead in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship after his first West Cork Rally win.

Reigning Irish Tarmac Champion Callum Devine started quickest on Clonakilty’s Friday night stages but fell behind Cronin on Saturday morning before getting a puncture on stage seven. The Volkswagen Polo driver was climbing back up the pack when he damaged his rear-left suspension on Saturday’s final stage, dropping out of the rally in fourth position.

Matt Edwards and William Creighton made it a Ford Fiesta lock-out on the West Cork Rally podium. It is the first time since 2019’s Killarney Rally of the Lakes that M-Sport’s RC2 cars have recorded a 1-2-3 on an Irish Tarmac event.

Edwards was searching for a big result in his maiden Irish Tarmac campaign after dropping points on Galway’s opener. The three-time British Rally Champion showed his title-challenging ability over West Cork’s three days and was in a prime position to capitalise on Devine’s misfortune on Saturday.

A handbrake issue gave Edwards a slight scare on Sunday morning but his real problem was resisting the temptation of pushing too hard on West Cork’s prime rally stages – Ardfield, Glandore, and Sam’s Cross. Edwards stuck to his main objective, though, finishing second, 29.2 seconds ahead of Creighton after two stage wins on Sunday.

2023 Junior World Rally Champions, Creighton and Liam Regan, clicked with their Fiesta on Saturday’s wet stages and felt comfortable enough to battle with Irish Tarmac’s usual suspects. Creighton set three fastest times over the weekend and will take plenty of confidence into next weekend’s British Rally Championship opener.

Josh Moffett was much happier in Sunday’s dry conditions but was too far behind Creighton to challenge for third. Still, his weekend ended better than it started as he sealed the top prize in the Citroen C3 Rally2 Trophy.

Rounding out the top five, Jonny Greer finished 42.1 seconds behind Citroen rival Moffett.

Local driver David Guest retired from tenth overall on stage nine after falling off the road while under pressure from Owen Murphy behind. Jason McSweeney was another to slip off the road on Sunday. The Skoda driver was in ninth when he dropped out on the penultimate corner of West Cork’s penultimate stage.

Top five standings

1 Cronin / Galvin (Ford Fiesta Rally2) 2:11:36.2s
2 Edwards / Moynihan (Fiesta) +57.2s
3 Creighton / Regan (Fiesta) +1:26.4
4 Moffett / Hayes (Citroen C3 Rally2) +2:10.4
5 Greer / Burns (C3) +2:52.5


Ryan MacHugh sealed a 47.6-second victory in West Cork’s Rally4 category. The young Donegal driver is setting a high benchmark after two ITRC victories so far this year. MacHugh set six fastest times over the weekend and his Ford Fiesta Rally4 was consistently on the pace throughout the challenging conditions.

Settling for second in class and top place in round one of the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup, Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams were flying once they got up to speed on the West Cork stages. The Welsh crew’s five stage wins all came after stage eight.

Cian Caldwell was in with a shout of challenging Lloyd for top Peugeot 208 Rally4 finisher but couldn’t match his pace on Sunday’s stages. Caldwell was content with his third-place finish, a solid start to his Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup campaign.

Top five standings

1 MacHugh / Boyle (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 2:26:10.3s
2 Lloyd / Williams (Peugeot 208 Rally4) +47.6s
3 Caldwell / Egan (208) +1:15.0
4 Shanahan / O’Donoghue (208) +7:11.5
5 Fitzgibbon / Ryan (208) +9:02.1

McEvoy Motorsport Modified ITRC

2018 Modified Irish Tarmac Champion Kevin Eves started Sunday with an assured category lead after a resounding performance on Saturday’s challenging stages. The Toyota Corolla driver forgot about the foggy conditions and kept his throttle pinned to the floor through the day’s tricky opening stages to overhaul Friday leader Jonathan Pringle.

Pringle retired on Sunday’s first stage to hand Eves a sizeable advantage at the front of the modified field.

Colin Byrne inherited Pringle’s runner-up spot before slipping out of contention on stage 16. Damian Toner and JF Shovelin were left to pick up second and third in modifieds as Eves completed a self-containing Sunday drive to seal a five-minute victory in modifieds.

Top five standings

1 Eves / Melly (Toyota Corolla) 2:21:58.6s
2 Toner / Horgan (Ford Escort Mk2) +5:09.4s
3 Shovelin / Furey (Escort) +7:33.9
4 Kelleher / Ryan (Escort) +8:00.1
5 Dolphin / Egan (Escort) +9:16.9

Sherwood Engines Historic ITRC

Tomas and Eurig Davies hung on over West Cork’s final stages to secure their first Historic Irish Tarmac victory since 2011’s Killarney Historic Rally.

The Historics started their rally on Saturday morning with Neil Williams grabbing the lead after the first two stages. 3.5 seconds separated the top four crews with Davies, Gareth James, and Meirion Evans in pursuit of Williams.

Williams struggled in the wet on the next two stages and dropped to third, 21 seconds behind new leader James. Winner of the last round, Evans, retired on stage seven when his Escort fell off the road on a tricky corner while James’s bid ended on stage eleven.

A fastest time on Saturday’s final stage gave Davies a 16.9-second lead over Williams and he went on to extend his lead over Williams on Sunday’s opening loop of three stages.

Williams was ruing his choice of tyres as they overheated halfway through Sunday’s Ardfield opener. He responded on West Cork’s final loop setting a brace of fastest times but it was too little too late as his Ford Escort RS1800 fell 11.4 seconds shy of Davies.

Wayne Evans completed the historic top three after Ray Breen dropped out of third on stage 15.

Top five standings

1 Davies / Davies (Ford Escort RS1800) 2:02:59.3s
2 Williams / O’Sullivan (Escort) +11.4s
3 Evans / Smithwick (Escort) +3:04.2
4 Williams / Commane (Escort) +3:41.3
5 McDevitt / Fitzpatrick (Escort) +4:37.3

Paul Browne Plant Hire & Civil Engineering ITRC

Kyle Browne sealed his first-ever Junior Rally win with a tremendous drive on the West Cork Rally. Starting on Sunday, the Junior crews were on a mission over the six sun-soaked stages.

Evan McEvoy set an early benchmark on Sunday’s Ardfield opener, going fastest by six seconds despite bouncing his Honda Civic against a wall after an awkward landing on a fifth-gear jump. Resultant wishbone damage cost McEvoy a lot of time over the next two stages and returned to service in second, 20.6 seconds behind Browne.

Barry McIntyre was second-fastest on the junior’s opening test although he retired on the next stage.

Browne took advantage of his rival’s problems, recording a brace of stage wins to hold a 20.6-second lead at the halfway point.

With his Civic’s wishbone fixed, McEvoy posted a fastest time on Ardfield to close within 10 seconds of Browne but the Cork driver responded with an 11-second fastest time on West Cork’s penultimate Glandore stage. Browne and co-driver Mark O’Leary sealed the win in style with a fourth and final stage win on the Sam’s Cross decider.

McEvoy had to settle for second while Graham and Trevor Roche had a blast on their way to third in the competitive category.

Top five standings

1 Browne / O’Leary (Honda Civic) 57:34.2s
2 McEvoy / O’Sullivan (Civic) +22.0s
3 Roche / Roche (Civic) +2:03.2
4 Hynes / Fallon (Civic) +3:18.2
5 Hallahan / Rea (Civic) +4:20.3

Complete West Cork Rally results

Photos by D Harrigan Images

Adam Hall, ITRC Press Officer