Clarke officially crowned champion
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British Rally Champion, Marshall Clarke (right) pictured with Keith Cronin at the British Rally Championship prizegiving.
Marshall Clarke was officially crowned British Rally Champion at the series prize giving in Manchester on Saturday night. In a night of double celebration for Fermanagh, Matthew Cathcart also received a trophy for second overall in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy.
Marshall navigated Keith Cronin to the overall title to become the second Fermanagh co-driver to claim the honour in three years, after Barry McNulty completed the same feat with the same driver in 2010. Marshall and Cork's Keith Cronin dominated the series from the second round onwards, and were deserving champions in their Citroen DS3, topping the championship table eight points ahead of their nearest challenger. Victory on the Jim Clark Rally, the Pirelli Rally and then on home soil at Rally Northern Ireland meant the pair only had to complete the final round inside the top eight to take the crown, and they completed the job with ease.
Matthew Cathcart started the championship in a bid to gain valuable experience, but ended the season challenging the front runners in the competitive Fiesta class, as well as finishing sixth overall in the British Championship. Second behind Academy World Rally Champion Elfin Evans was as good as Matthew could have expected, and he was delighted with how the year went.
"It was a great year and a big experience," admitted Matthew. "Apart from one rally were we broke the steering rack and went off we were generally very happy with how it went. Elfin has been doing it for six years and maybe more and he is a fantastic driver, but it was nice to be up on the pace with those guys, especially Alastair Fisher."
Matthew's performances also earned him a qualifying berth in the end of season Pirelli Star Driver competition. Six of the championship's most promising young drivers will battle it out at the start of December to win a free drive in a Citroen DS3 for the duration of next season's championship, with the drivers being tested on not only their driving ability but also their skills in handling the media and their fitness.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 22 Nov 12