Rally Isle of Man: Keith Cronin wins 'hardest-ever' British Rally title

Keith Cronin and co-pilot Mikie Galvin
Keith Cronin and co-pilot Mikie Galvin finished one point ahead of their nearest rivals to win the British title

Keith Cronin won his fourth British Rally Championship after claiming victory in the Rally Isle of Man.

The Irishman and co-pilot Mikie Galvin won both of the rally's two point-scoring rounds, which was enough to also take the overall title.external-link

They finished 18.6 seconds ahead of Welsh crew Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod overall, with Sweden's Fredrik Ahlin and Torstein Eriksen in third.

Ahlin had been leading the championship going into the event.

He needed to finish at least second and third over the two legs to win the title but could only manage two third-place finishes.

Cronin said: "It's been a tough year. It didn't start so well, everything has been thrown at us. This was the toughest event I have ever done and the hardest title to win".

Rally Isle of Man crash: Jamie Jukes and Dave Williams
The Welsh crew of Jamie Jukes and Dave Williams crashed on the penultimate stage
Rally Isle of Man crash: Jamie Jukes and Dave Williams
Their Mitsubishi Mirage R5 rally car rolled down an 80ft cliff

Organiser Chris Boyde said it was the closest possible winning margin for a British title of just one tenth of a second.

He said: "It is about as good as sport gets - it literally could not have been closer."

There was drama in the penultimate stage of the competition on Saturday when a Welsh crew crashed over a cliff sparking a emergency rescue.

Both driver Jamie Jukes and co-driver David Williams were rescued from their Mitsubishi Mirage R5 rally car which had rolled 25m (80ft) down a cliff on Marine Drive in Douglas.

Mr Boyde said Jukes remains remains in Noble's Hospital with reported back injuries, whilst Williams has now been released and returned to the UK.

A spokesman for their team Spencer Sport said it was a "big high-speed accident" and they were "overwhelmed" by the wonderful messages of support.

He added: "We'd like to thank the rally rescue crews, the emergency services and the hospital staff for the incredibly quick and professional way they dealt with this incident.

"Jamie Jukes remains in Noble's Hospital, where he is in very good hands, and undergoing further assessment."

The penultimate stage has already been delayed after a herd of cows wandered onto the stage.

Prestone MSA British Rally Championship Standings (Drivers) 8/8

1. Keith Cronin - 129

2. Fredrik Ahlin - 128

3. Matt Edwards - 94