Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver William Creighton will return to the coveted FIA Junior World Rally Championship in 2022 as the series launches into a new era of the Ford Fiesta Rally3.
Creighton, 24 from Moira in Co. Down will aim to capitalise on an impressive debut season in the championship in 2021, securing a wealth of fastest stage times and confidence-boosting results on his way to sixth in the standings. Along with co-driver Liam Regan, Creighton will contest the new-look championship which switches to the four-wheel-drive category for the very first time.
The exciting five-round calendar launches with the iconic ice-laden and snow banked stages of Rally Sweden at the end of February with each driver in the series piloting identical Rally3 machinery, making it one of the closest-fought championships in the world.
On offer is a four-round prize drive in the 2023 WRC2 Championship – the feeder category to the Rally1 top-flight, in an M-Sport Fiesta Rally2 coupled with a test programme, tyre package and free entries, arguably the biggest prize in the sport.
Creighton is looking forward to the challenge of adapting to new machinery on the world’s stage whilst vying for the coveted title.
“I`m delighted to be making a return to the Junior World Rally Championship this year and to be part of the new era,” he says.
“We have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to be able to contest a second season and whilst we still have work to do, I`m thrilled to be heading back to the JWRC to have a chance to prove myself against some of the best junior drivers, on some of the toughest events in the world. There is no other championship like it and it’s a real privilege to be representing the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy on the world’s stage.”
After honing his skills as a junior driver aged just fourteen, Creighton’s career has flourished and last season would prove a successful one, contesting both the British and World Junior Championships in a bumper year behind the wheel.
Driving a Fiesta Rally4 in both series’, Creighton would undertake two vastly different championship goals, looking to gain experience of the world tour whilst battling at the front of the British Championship.
Despite his lack of experience in World Championship events, Creighton would return an impressive performance across the five-round series, with top times and podium positions mixed with mechanical misfortune, seeing him finish the championship in sixth spot.
However, a stellar performance in the Junior BRC saw Creighton take the coveted title on his home event, the Ulster Rally in November, securing a 2022 WRC prize drive with Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing in the process.
Now, Creighton will return to the Junior WRC after his debut season, armed with a wealth of knowledge about the championship but is eager to acknowledge the 2022 season could be like starting again for the rapid pacesetter.
“It’s one of the closest fought rally championships in the world and there is no substitute for experience really,” says Creighton.
“Last year was all about learning and gaining knowledge of world events, how they work, how to tackle them and how I can get up to speed against the other contenders. But this year will be very much like pressing the reset switch, as we step into the new Rally3 Fiesta’s. Most of the drivers will not have had the benefit of extensive competitive mileage in the cars and this will level the playing field”.
And that is an exciting prospect for Creighton.
“I’m certainly heading into this season with much more confidence than last year, however I am aware of the challenges that lie ahead. Rally Sweden is a huge leap into the unknown for me as I`ve never done any snow events, but we will head to the LBC – Ruschen Rally in Lima in early February to get some practice before the opening round. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a season so much as this one. It is undoubtedly the biggest test of my career but I’m ready to grab the opportunity and work tirelessly to achieve the goals I set for myself. It will be great to get started in the new Fiesta and battle for the Junior WRC title this season but I really could not have started this journey without the help and support of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and my backers. I hope I can do them proud on the stages in 2022”.