Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver William Creighton cited last weekend’s [19-21 January] Rallye Monte Carlo as an “amazing opportunity” after contesting the prestigious event for the very first time.
Creighton, 25 from Moira in Co.Armagh would tackle what is regarded as the most famous rally in the world, behind the wheel of a PCRS Rallysport run Hyundai i20 N Rally2 and would go toe-to-toe with the regulars in the FIA World Rally Championship and WRC2 category as they kicked off their season at the iconic Monaco based event.
Using the same Hyundai that saw him produce an inspiring performance at WRC RallyRACC Spain in October last year, Creighton would return to the ultra-competitive WRC2 class to gain more experience with the impressive machinery and sample one of the toughest events in the world. Despite his lack of experience with both the Hyundai and the event, Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan regularly set top fifteen WRC2 times (from twenty-seven starters) and were mixing with seasoned series regulars throughout the four-day event.
This year’s Rallye Monte Carlo would be uncharacteristically dry, with the expected snowfall and thick ice usually associated with the event, largely absent. However, the challenges of the mountainous passes and super-fast closed-road asphalt remained, testing the world’s best to the limit. Thursday opened with two stages over the infamous Col de Turini in darkness and it was a difficult start to Creighton’s event, a stall on the first stage was followed by a trip into the scenery on the second across a section of ice which also claimed several top crews.
The first full day started much cleaner, with a plan of ensuring the pace was progressive throughout the leg. Despite a few small errors, Creighton would guide his Hyundai through the day, returning to Monaco with a confidence-boosting day behind him.
Saturday had all the signs of another clean run, although a puncture hampered progress in the opening loop. However a turbo issue would force Creighton to park up on the final stage of the day. Work by the PCRS Rallysport squad ensured he could resume under SuperRally on Sunday but would need to manage the car over the course of the four stages. However, Creighton did enough to return to the finish ramp in Monaco and secure a finish on the legendary event.
“That was such an amazing opportunity,” said Creighton. “It’s been a really valuable lesson too and I’ve come away from the weekend feeling very empowered by the performance. On paper perhaps it doesn’t look great but when you drill down and take some of the stages individually, we did really well for our first time there considering how complex the rally can be. There were a few places where I struggled to get a rhythm together and there were also some unforced errors so plenty to work on for the future. A huge thank you must go to the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy for all their support and assistance in allowing us to tackle this sensational rally. Now attention turns to our Junior WRC campaign and the opening round in Sweden. We will be doing Rally Lima as a warm-up so it’s a really busy time ahead”.