Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver William Creighton proved he has the pace to be at the front of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship fight, by taking an inspiring seven stage wins at a demanding Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (13-15 August).
The Moira ace racked up the impressive stats at the penultimate round of the series which took drivers across 300 kilometres of some of Belgium’s most notorious asphalt stages, but despite the impressive accolade, could only finish in fifth place due to a technical issue on the opening day of the event.
Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan would also set seven top-three stage times in the Junior WRC category which, added to the fastest times, would have put them well within the fight for their maiden win at this level on only their first year in the series. But Creighton is eager to take the positives away from the weekend’s performance.
“It was certainly a case of so near yet so far for us this weekend but to see seven fastest stage times on the board is better than I could have hoped for to be honest,” said Creighton. “Going to an event that you have contested before really does allow you to settle in much more quickly and it was great to see we were on the pace from the outset. Everything just clicked and I felt comfortable with the pace; it just kept giving us the wins. Of course, it’s unfortunate that our issues on Friday mean our pace is not reflected in our finishing position, but it’s important to not let that distract you and Sunday’s stage wins was a prime example of that”.
Creighton was indeed on the pace from the off. Just 0.1sec shy of the fastest Junior WRC time over the pre-event shakedown stage was a sign of things to come, with second fastest over the opening stage of the rally on Friday an encouraging start to his weekend. That pace was repeated on the second test to hold a strong second spot before disaster struck on the third stage of the rally. Whilst in the Kemmelberg test, the oil pressure warning light illuminated on his M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally4, and Creighton was forced to pull over. After a discussion with the team, he continued but with over two and a half minutes lost.
That would leave the progressive youngster with a day of catch-up and with such a deficit to the leaders, would elect to drive his own rally for the remainder and concentrate on securing another vital finish in only his first season in the closely-fought series.
However, with the issues resolved at service, his maiden FIA Junior WRC stage win came on the seventh test of the event to offer some consolation for his earlier misfortune. That run of form continued for the remainder of the rally too, with his stage win tally increasing to four by the end of the second leg. Three more stage wins on the final day of the rally further cemented Creighton’s progress in the series and he would recover to take fifth spot and an all-important finish on the challenging Belgian event.
“You have to reflect on the positives at a time like this and to be winning stages at a world level against the competition around us and in our first year is very encouraging indeed,” said Creighton. “The pace of the Junior WRC is insane and whilst you could say my previous experience of the event at a British Rally Championship level helped here, it was a very different rally this time around. I have felt that we could have pushed for more stage wins this year, but these events are so long and arduous, we have weighed up the risk against reward. It’s nice to be able to prove we have what it takes and I`m looking forward to the final round to see what we can do.”
Creighton will now switch his attention to the Junior British Rally Championship as he bids to fight to regain the lead of the series at the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire in September. The final round of the FIA Junior WRC takes place in Spain a month later and Creighton heads to the event fifth in the standings.
You can follow William’s progress throughout his Junior World Rally Championship and British Championship campaign this season by following him on his social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.