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With their car totally destroyed by fire, the retirement of Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh left another titanic fight between Keith Cronin/Gregg Shinnors and Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas for victory on the Pirelli International Rally.

The penultimate stage saw Cronin take 7.8 seconds off Higgins’ 10.2 second lead at the final service, leaving another nail biting final stage in prospect.

As the results finally came through, there was a cheer from the crowd gathered around the computer terminal at rally HQ, Cronin and Shinnors taking their second successive victory in their debut season in the MSA British Rally Championship. [AUDIO]

The winning margin was just two seconds, the 22 year-old Irish driver snatching 4.4 from Pirelli TEG Sport driver Higgins on the 8.7 mile Valley stage. [AUDIO] The winning margin is even closer than on round one back in March, where Cronin stopped the clocks nine seconds before Higgins.

After Phillip and Simon Morrow's excellent run ended stuck in a Kielder ditch, Team JRM Lico’s David Bogie/Kevin Rae took an excellent third place in their nearly new Mitsubishi Evo 10, [AUDIO] having only driven their 2008 Evo Challenge prize once before. Nearly a minute and a half back from the leading pair, the young Scot headed Northern Ireland’s Alastair Fisher by a mere 1.8 seconds.

The newcomer to four wheel drive had multiple BRC Champion Rory Kennedy alongside, the pair incredibly close to taking third overall, having taken eighteen seconds off Bogie in the final test.

Jonathan Greer and Anthony O’Conaill were happy enough with their progress on the rally, although slightly disappointed that they were pipped for fourth by Fisher. The pair might struggle to make the next round though, as the team has several cars hired out overseas and may be short of manpower.

Dave Weston Junior re-united with regular co-driver Dave Robson for the event, taking sixth place behind Greer. The young Scot declared it a good weekend overall with more miles under his belt in the new car, although still struggling on the faster sections.

Icelandic Rally Champion Daniel Siguardason managed seventh place in Stuart Jones’ brand new Evo 10, the amiable character also using Jones’ co-driver Andy Bull. The car looked slightly second hand at the finish though, after he put it on its side, not losing too much time on his preferred gravel surface.

One of several newcomers to the British Rally Championship, Chris Firth, set some good times and thoroughly enjoyed the event in his older spec Subaru. The only damage to the car caused when a marshal misunderstood a request to re-affix a flapping bumper, instead trying to remove it completely. 

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