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William Creighton takes deserved second place on British Championship opener



Fresh from a podium at the West Cork Rally last weekend, Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver William Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan took a resounding second-place finish on the opening round of the British Rally Championship on Saturday.



Creighton is dovetailing a British Championship title bid with his World Rally Championship WRC2 programme, and while the North East Stages was important in terms of BRC points, the event also served as a crucial asphalt test ahead of Rally Croatia in the middle of April.


Creighton and Regan, driving the same M-Sport and Rally Academy-supported Ford Fiesta Rally2 that they use on World Rally Championship events, finished 27 seconds behind former FIA European champion, Manchester’s Chris Ingram, and his American co-driver Alex Kihurani in a Volkswagen Polo GTi.



And just like in Cork the weekend before the 2023 FIA Junior World Rally Champions grew more and more comfortable with the car as the event progressed.

Such was their pace over the second loop of five stages, they outpaced Ingram and Kihurani to win the afternoon’s battle by a margin of just 2.2 seconds.


“We are very happy with our performance, conditions were so slippery and we did a clean rally with no mistakes,” said Creighton at the event finish in Garstang, Lancashire.


“M-Sport did a great job preparing the car straight after West Cork and despite such slippery conditions we felt comfortable.”


“I am really happy to have such a challenging event to help prepare for Croatia. To finish on the podium amongst such a strong entry is a good feeling. Thanks to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and all the people around Liam and I who are working hard to help us keep improving.”


Creighton, the 2021 Junior British Champion, finished just ahead of Irish Tarmac Rally Championship regulars Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson who gave the Toyota Yaris Rally2 its competitive debut in Britain and Ireland on the event.



Before Croatia, like many more of the Irish competitors registered for the British Rally Championship, Creighton and Regan will contest the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages. Based in Llandrindod Wells, on Saturday 13 April with stages in the famous Myherin and Hafren forests.



It was a rally to forget for West Cork Rally winners Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin. A host of problems in their Ford Fiesta Rally2, including an anti-lag issue, a faulty handbrake and a broken driveshaft relegated them to seventh after setting second-fastest time on the opening loop.

 


"It was just one of those rallies", rued Cronin at the finish of the final stage.

 

Junior British Rally Championship

The Junior British Rally Championship is always a hotbed of action as young drivers aim to prove their worth and bid for the coveted title.



Taking the opening round glory and becoming one of the youngest-ever Junior BRC winners, was 17-year-old Kalum Graffin who took his Peugeot 208 Rally4 to a sensational win.


He and co-driver Richard Crozier battled hard all day with their rivals, to take the win by just 11 seconds from Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown. Each of the Junior contestants showed their hand throughout the day, with Casey Jay Coleman and Lorcan Moore rounding out the podium after suffering a double puncture during the afternoon loop. Both Graffin and Coleman used their bonus points inducing `Joker`, which gave them an additional five and three championship points, respectively.


Circuit of Ireland Rally

Attention now turns to Saturday’s Circuit of Ireland Rally where three Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy crews resume their West Cork Rally battle in the third round of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.



Donegal’s Ryan MacHugh and Declan Boyle are, so far, this season, the Rally4 category benchmarks. The Ford Fiesta Rally4 crew will arrive in Dungannon with two wins from two starts and will be looking to build on their early championship advantage.



However, the one-day sprint Circuit of Ireland Rally is a stark contrast to the three-day West Cork marathon.


“The approach has to be completely different due to the lack of stage mileage, ”said MacHugh. “There are just 54 kilometres in each loop so picking your tyres and maybe thinking about carrying two spares are some things we need to look at. Both me and Declan are really looking forward to it.”


His main opposition is likely to come from Meath’s Cian Caldwell and his Galway-based co-driver Liam Egan. They finished third in the RC4 class in West Cork at the wheel of their Peugeot 208 Rally4.


“We were happy with the progression we had in West Cork and we are hoping to take our pace with us and progress it even more,” said Caldwell.


“I am looking forward to the challenge that the Circuit of Ireland’s famous stages hold for us.”


The third and final Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy entry in the Circuit of Ireland is Keelan Grogan and Ayrton Sherlock. Their Peugeot 208 Rally4 suffered a mysterious electrical problem in West Cork and they were forced to finish the rally under SuperRally rules.


“It was a frustrating weekend in West Cork with an issue with the car hampering us from Friday night on,” said Grogan.


“The Circuit of Ireland is a lot different than West Cork and maybe more straightforward in that it is only a one-day event. So it will be pretty much a sprint from the first stage with very little time to catch up if you drop time. That being said, we will still have to be sensible and get some good points on the board.”

Meanwhile in Donegal on Saturday night, Rally Academy co-driver Conor Mohan guided his driver Michael Carbin to fifth overall in the Termon-based Donegal Navigation Trial.


Photo credits: 

William Creighton by BRC Media / M-Sport Media / Sean Mc Hugh 

Kallum Graffin by BRC Media

Ryan MacHugh action by Ciandon and portrait by Sean Moriarty

Cian Caldwell by Sean Moriarty


Text by Sean Moriarty

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