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GP Week : Issue 39
>>WRCnews Tragedy at Valasska Cronin leads Brit series 22 year-old Irish Mitsubishi driver Keith Cronin was the surprise last stage winner of the Bulldog Rally, opening round of the British national championship, at the weekend. Reigning champion Mark Higgins had led from the start but he was challenged and at one point equalled by Cronin before suffering transmission and suspension troubles in his old Subaru Impreza N11. After driving Super 2000 cars last year, Stuart Jones adapted himself to a Mitsubishi. He suffered a first stage puncture and later rolled the car but finished third overall in front of the Pirelli prize drive winner Adam Gould in his British Pirelli Star Driver Subaru Impreza N14. Gould lost time on the second stage with suspension damage. Best two-wheel-drive car was the Renault Clio R3 of Tom Walster. Other class winners include Jason Pritchard in a Citroen C2R2 Max and Australian Molly Taylor, daughter of champion Australian co-driver Coral, in a Suzuki Swift. Foreign competitors who retired included the Finn Matti Rantanen whose Clio had engine problems, the Swede Andreas Sjolander who retired his Mitsubishi with fuel pump trouble and New Zealander Patrick Malley whose Fiesta had a fire on the first stage. This victory is sure to be a landmark in Cronin’s career. Oldest member of a family of 10 from Bantry in County Cork. he made his mark by finishing third on last year’s Yorkshire Rally and was then selected as Ireland’s candidate for the European Pirelli Star Driver Shoot-Out. Chicherit in the desert Former JWRC rally driver and professional skier Guerlain Chicherit has won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for the second time in a five month space, winning every stage in the car category. This was the opening round of the 2009 FIA World Cup for Cross Country rallies. He was partnered by Swedish codriver Tina Thorner in a BMW X3 CC, finishing over two hours in front of Yayha Al Helai’s Nissan Patrol. 21 The opening round of the Czech rally championship, the Cetelem Valasska Rally, was stopped after a accident in which three spectators died when the Evo IX of the Slovakian brothers Lucas and Julius Lapdavsky left the road. Reigning champion Roman Kresta (Peugeot 207 S2000) was declared the winner, and the two official Skoda entries of Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen finished second and fourth after a disastrous tyre choice for the opening stages. 18 year-old Russian Evgeniy Novikov finished fifth in a rented Mitsubishi on his first ever major asphalt rally despite a fraught pre-event test. Roman Kresta