Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge -Round Six Report ~Todds Leap Ulster International Rally – 22nd & 23rd August 2008
Keith Cronin proves uncatchable in Ulster. Championship leader David Bogie sidelined on opening stage. Evo Challenge title race goes down to the final round. Keith Cronin and co-driver Greg Shinnors recorded a resounding victory by over four minutes from Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew in round six of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, the Todds Leap Ulster Rally, which took place on 22nd & 23rd August.
Contrasting fortunes saw series leaders David Bogie/Kevin Rae out of the running on the opening stage when their car ran wide and clipped a verge, the subsequent impact removing a wheel.
The Ulster Rally provided the Evolution Challenge with its second asphalt event of the season. Featuring six stages on Friday evening and a further ten on Saturday, totalling a competitive distance of 134 miles, the undulating tarmac roads around the host town of Armagh makes this one of the most demanding rallies of the year for both cars and crews.
Right from the word go, Cronin stamped his authority on proceedings and, after setting the fastest Evo Challenge time on all of the event’s 16 stages, plus having recorded his second Mitsubishi Championship win of the season, he finished over four minutes ahead of his closest rival, Nik Elsmore in second. Daniel Barry battled with an ill-handling car to finish third, whilst Neil McCance was slowed in the early stages and finished fourth.
“I’m delighted. Other than what I think was a problem with the diff pump in the closing stages, it all went according to plan”, said Cronin at the finish. “I could have done with more performances like this earlier in the season, but it’s always good to take a win, whenever it happens.”
The consequence of this weekend’s result sees Bogie and Elsmore share the top spot in the driver’s standings, both tying on 44 points. This means that Bogie has to finish fifth or higher on the seventh and final round, the Bulldog Rally on 18th October, to secure the title. Elsmore however, has posted consistent finishes all season and therefore must drop a score from his worst round, which is six points.
With Richard Cathcart having withdrawn from the series, it means that McCance (38 points), Barry and Cronin (36 points) are all in with a mathematical chance of lifting the title. It’s going to be an exciting finale that’s for sure!
Announced earlier this month, the Evolution Challenge continues to offer its champion one of the best prizes in British Motorsport, the winner of the 2008 series being given an official works drive in this year’s Wales Rally GB in a brand new Group N Evolution X. The winning driver will also be considered for selection when details are announced about Mitsubishi’s 2009 works campaign.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is backed by Mitsubishi Motors UK and Ralliart, with support from its associate sponsors: Pirelli tyres, Speedline Corse wheels, Sparco racewear, Performance Friction Brakes, Sunoco Race Fuels, ADR Motorsport, Walkinshaw Performance and PIAA lights, who sponsor the junior award for under 25 year old drivers.
Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge - Round Six Results1 Keith Cronin (Cork)/Greg Shinnors (Limerick) 2:02:44.82 Nik Elsmore (Coleford)/Craig Drew (Bream) 2:07:10.83 Daniel Barry (Enniskerry)/Martion Brady (Navan) 2:07:30.5 4 Neil McCance (Comber)/Sean Ferris (Drumquin) 2:07:38.25 David Meredith (Dolgellau)/Dai Roberts (Carmarthen) 2:59:08.7 6 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) 4:31:10.3
Championship positions after round six
Pos. Name Points Drivers 1 David Bogie 44 2 Nik Elsmore 44 3 Richard Cathcart 38 4 Neil McCance 38 5 Daniel Barry 36 6 Keith Cronin 36 7 Miles Johnston 19 8 Jonathan Sparks 16 9 David Meredith 11 10 Seb Ling 8