Current British Rally Championship leader, Keith Cronin, has placed an entry for the Moonraker Rally, which is set to take place in his home county of Cork on Saturday, July 2nd. The Munster Car Club organised event will be based in the village of Ballyvourney and is to be a counting round of the Motorsport Ireland National Forestry Rally Championship. Cronin and co-driver, Mikie Galvin, previously won the Moonraker in 2017, and then as now, are using the outing to gain additional gravel running in aid of a BRC campaign. The duo went on to take the British title that year, and presently head the 2022 points standings following a victory on the Jim Clark Rally last month in their Volkswagen Polo GTi R5.
With the BRC due to resume the following weekend on the Nicky Grist Rally in Wales, the Moonraker is ideally placed to provide the required warm-up, as Cronin explains: “The first two BRC rounds were on tarmac, and we’re now heading into two gravel rounds. We haven’t done a forest rally since the Cambrian last October, and that was in the Fiesta rather than the Polo, plus we’re on Pirelli tyres now, so there’s some learning to be done. The Moonraker suits in every way, it’s only a week before the Nicky Grist and it’s only about forty minutes from home. It’s possible that it will be our only outing in Ireland this year”.
The entry list for the Moonraker features most of the National Forestry Championship frontrunners, including Jordan Hone and Keith Power in Ford Fiestas, Conor McCourt in a Skoda Fabia, and local driver, Gerard Lucey, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. The field will also include Motorsport Ireland National Junior Rally Series competitors, divided into 14-18 and 19-25 age groups.
The Moonraker Rally will consist of eight stages, a loop of four repeated twice. It will get underway from Coláiste Ghobnatan at 9am, with the first stage scheduled to start at 09:37. The National Forestry Rally Championship regulations require that two wheel drive cars run first, in reverse seeding order, with four wheel drives after in normal order. Service will be at the Údarás na Gaeltachta complex after stages two, four and six, and the Finish celebrations will take place at the Abbey Hotel in Ballyvourney, which serves as Rally Headquarters, at around 5.45pm.
The Volkswagen Polo of Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin is prepared by Tom Gahan Motorsport and supported by M O’Brien Group of Companies, Keohane Seafoods, Inver Energy, Cremin Coaches, Cronin’s HomeValue Hardware, Cronin’s Centra and Pirelli Tyres.