Four-time British Rally Champion, Keith Cronin, is set to return to the series this year, with support from Hankook Tire. The West Cork driver has signed a contract with the premium tyre maker to contest the four gravel rounds of the 2021 BRC, beginning with the Nicky Grist Rally next week, plus the season-closing tarmac surface Ulster Rally in November. This weekend’s non-championship M-Sport Rally in Cumbria will provide the first opportunity to test the latest Hankook competition tyres in advance of the BRC campaign.
Cronin is to pilot a Ford Fiesta Rally 2 throughout the year, which will be run by NPL Rally Hire and Preparation, and his co-driver will again be Mikie Galvin, who guided him to his most recent BRC title in 2017. Additional support for the BRC season comes from M. O’Brien Group of Companies, Rentokil Initial, Cremin Coaches, Cronin’s Centra, Cronin’s Homevalue and M-Sport.
“The car will start in full Hankook livery on our excellent latest generation rally tyres” says Manfred Sandbichler, Hankook Motorsport Director Europe. “I know what the driver and his co-driver are capable of, it’s a highly competitive team and therefore I am particularly pleased that they will start the British Rally Championship with Hankook support. The level of driving is very high and we are competing in a very strong series”.
Hankook can look back on a 80-year history and is now the sixth largest tyre manufacturer in the world. Hankook is currently the exclusive tyres supplier for the TCR Europe, W Series and British Formula 4 and is one of the top names in international motorsport impressing drivers, teams, experts and fans for years with the quality of its high-end Ventus Race tyre and the optimal support provided at racetracks all over the world.
Mindful of the fact that he has been away for the sport for some time, Cronin remains grounded as regards his hopes for the season: “I haven’t competed in a rally since 2018, so my expectations must stay realistic, the main priority of the programme is to develop a new generation of Hankook’s gravel tyres. That said, I’m really looking forward to getting back out and I’m very grateful to Hankook and our other supporters for this opportunity.” He has had previous successes on Hankook tyres, finishing the 2007 Irish Forestry Rally series as vice-champion early in his sporting career.
The calendar of events in which Cronin and Galvin will be competing in the Hankook Tire Ford Fiesta is as follows:
- 3-4 July: M-Sport Rally, Greystoke Forest, Cumbria
- 10 July: Nicky Grist Rally, Builth Wells, Powys
- 14 August: Grampian Rally, Crathes, Aberdeenshire
- 24-25 September: Trackrod Rally, Scarborough, Yorkshire
- 30 October: Cambrian Rally, Llandudno, Conwy
- 20 November: Ulster Rally, Newry