•𝑴𝒐𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒔𝒑𝒐𝒓𝒕 𝑰𝒓𝒆𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑹𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑨𝒄𝒂𝒅𝒆𝒎𝒚 𝒅𝒓𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝑾𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒂𝒎 𝑪𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒐𝒏 𝒘𝒊𝒏𝒔 𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒔𝒕 𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝑰𝑨 𝑱𝒖𝒏𝒊𝒐𝒓 𝑾𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝑹𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝑪𝒉𝒂𝒎𝒑𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒌𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒂 𝒅𝒓𝒂𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝒇𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝒅𝒓𝒊𝒗𝒆
•𝑴𝒐𝒊𝒓𝒂 𝒅𝒓𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒆𝒕 𝒇𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝒐𝒏 𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒌𝒆𝒏𝒅, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒖𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒂 𝒏𝒂𝒊𝒍-𝒃𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒔𝒔𝒖𝒆 𝒐𝒏 𝑺𝒂𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒐𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒕 𝒇𝒍𝒆𝒘 𝒖𝒑 𝒐𝒏 𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝑭𝒊𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒂, 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒍𝒎𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒂 𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒖𝒕𝒆
•𝑪𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒐𝒏 𝒔𝒕𝒖𝒏𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝒇𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒕𝒐 𝒘𝒊𝒏 𝒃𝒚 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒔𝒊𝒙 𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒉𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒂 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒅
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver William Creighton secured an outstanding maiden victory at the opening round of the FIA Junior WRC Championship, Rally Sweden [9-12 February].
Creighton, 25 from Moira in Co.Armagh was the star of the field, setting fastest time on an unrivalled nine stages during the event. His pace would see him build a lead of over 40 seconds against his nearest rivals, before his Fiesta bonnet flew up and blocked his view, losing almost a minute in the process.
Starting the final day of the event, Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan found themselves 19 seconds away from the leader and in a truly fascinating masterclass of top-level driving, Creighton bravely regained the lead of the rally on the penultimate test to win by the slender margin of just 0.6 seconds and secure his place in the history books.
“I really haven’t got the words right now to describe how this feels and what it means to finally win a round of the Junior WRC” he says.
“We have worked so hard to get to this point over the past two seasons and our preparation for the start of this year has been really good. That showed straight out of the box I think and we really gave ourselves a good chance over the opening three legs. OK, that was made more difficult by what happened on Saturday but it made today’s [Sunday] goal easier, it had to be flat out. I’m speechless.”
After honing his skills in the Junior WRC in 2021, Creighton was at the sharp end of the championship but was shy of a win in the hotly contested single make series. His pace in Sweden last year showed promise heading into 2023 but with a new brace of contenders to deal with, Creighton would need to be on top-form.
And the rally started perfectly with a stage win over the Umea Sprint stage on Thursday night to lead by over three seconds, before turning that into a 30 second advantage by the time crews returned to Parc Ferme on Friday night. He extended that further still on Saturday morning but dropped to second with his view through the windscreen compromised.
Sunday offered just three stages to regain control and Creighton admitted that it would be “an uphill struggle” to takeback 19 seconds with such little miles available. But with the bit between his teeth, he emerged from Sundays opener 13 seconds faster than anyone else and repeated that feat on the very next test. A nail-biting final stage saw him do just enough to take his first JWRC win in spectacular fashion.
“After the bonnet did a lap of the windscreen on Saturday afternoon I felt dejected with all the hard work we had put in. But weirdly, that made Sunday’s approach easy, we knew we just had to drive flat out and find the rhythm that we had on Friday. We couldn’t afford any mistakes either, so we had to balance that with not over cooking it and then giving away second place in the process as that was still good points for the championship, especially with the stage wins we had up to that point.”
“That first stage today [Sunday] felt really good and not too crazy actually so it was a bit of a surprise to take back that time but we just kept it consistent over the other two [stages] and did what we needed to. I’m so pleased with our pace this weekend as well, watching onboards back I can see we are a lot more committed that we were last year. I think some of that has come with our Rally2 experience recently, especially at Rallye Monte Carlo. It’s given us a great grounding coming into this weekend.”
“It’s still sinking in but I`m super happy with the result of course and our championship position to start the year. Huge thanks to everyone out there supporting us this weekend and all the messages and especially to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy for their valuable input as always. Their work behind the scenes has been fantastic and really boosted the confidence to fight at the top. Let’s carry this momentum forward to the next round in Croatia in April.”
Click here to view the WRC 2023 Rally Sweden: Wolf Stage Win Recap video