Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver and Junior World Rally Championship leader William Creighton will make his FIA European Rally Championship ERC3 debut at next weekend’s BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia.
The County Down driver and his co-driver Liam Regan will take over the M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta Rally 3 car vacated by Jon Armstrong.
Armstrong will drive a Ford Fiesta Rally2 for the MRF Tyres Dealer Team in the Karlstad-based event in what will be his maiden outing in a top-flight car in the FIA European Championship.
He has impressed many by dominating all four rounds of the ERC Rally 3 category so far this year.
M-Sport Poland needed a driver to take over from their class-winning pilot and was duly impressed by Creighton’s efforts in the Junior World Rally Championship at the wheel of a similar M-Sport Poland Fiesta Rally 3.
So far this year he was won two of the championship's three rounds (Sweden and Sardinia) and leads the JWRC championship by quite a margin.
This rally with M-Sport will give him more seat time on ultra-fast gravel ahead of the next JWRC round in Estonia in late July.
“I am very happy to announce that I’ll be driving the M-Sport Poland Fiesta Rally3 Evo at the next round of the European Rally Championship at the Royal Rally of Scandinavia,” said County Down driver Creighton.
“This is an opportunity that I was not expecting, and it is with great thanks to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy who have put me in this position.
“This is a very cool opportunity as the event will be based in Karlstad and use some iconic WRC Sweden stages, including a pass over the Colin’s Crest jump.”
“What a perfect way to get back into high-speed gravel stages before the next round of the Junior WRC in Estonia.”
Creighton last competed in the ERC on Rally di Roma Capitale in 2020, coming second in the RC4 class in a Ford Fiesta Rally4 on what was his first big European event.
“We’ve done quite a lot since then, in the WRC, so it's pretty cool to be heading back,” he added.
The Royal Rally of Scandinavia is a summer version of Sweden’s FIA World Rally Championship counter when it took place in the country’s Värmland region up until 2020 and uses gravel roads and stages that were previously covered in snow and ice.
Making his second FIA European Rally Championship appearance of the season is reigning Motorsport Ireland Forestry Rally Champion, Patrick O’Brien.
He and his brother Stephen will use their own Škoda Fabia Rally 2.
“I can’t wait to get to Sweden, the roads look fantastic and very enjoyable,” said the Omagh-based driver.
“It will be cool to drive on some of the WRC stages on gravel instead of the snow. For this event we are back in the Škoda Fabia so it will be great to be back in it again, we are hoping for a good result and to enjoy every minute of this opportunity.”
Other Irish drivers on the entry list published on Wednesday afternoon are FIA European Rally Championship regulars Josh McErlean and Aoife Raftery who will drive their PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 Rally2 and Peugeot 208 Rally 4 cars at the event.
As a result, the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy has ensured that there is Irish representation in all three classes in the rally that runs from July 7 to 8
Text By Sean Moriarty