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Billy Coleman Award finalist William Creighton secured his first Junior British Rally Championship (JBRC) victory since the 2017 Ulster Rally, storming from a lowly fifth place to win the category at the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally last weekend (14th September).

Creighton, 21 from Moira in Co. Down has suffered a string of bad luck this season behind the wheel of his Creightons backed Peugeot 208 R2, and that luck would find him once again on the second stage of the Scottish event, suffering a puncture and dropping to last place.

However, setting fastest time over every remaining stage saw Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan win the JBRC by over five seconds from fellow Motorsport Ireland contender Marty Gallagher, handing Regan the JBRC title in the process to round off the year in style for the pairing.

Creighton is the latest driver to be announced as a finalist for the coveted Billy Coleman Award for his performances during the May to July period. The winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver of the Year Award is in line to receive €100,000 worth of support to contest rallies nationally & internationally in 2020, thanks to support from Sport Ireland and Motorsport Ireland. The winner will also receive invaluable support from the associations to further enhance their career potential.

Despite a challenging year, the Peugeot ace has already secured the Class 2 title in the Valvoline Motorsport Ireland National Forest Rally Championship and is leading the ITRC3 category in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship with a round to go. Whilst the 2019 Junior BRC title eluded him this season, he has impressed all season and a solid finish in Scotland would cement the youngster’s second place in the series.

Over 75 miles of challenging and classic south of Scotland forest stages lay ahead for crews and Creighton’s day started perfectly, opening a six second lead over his rivals on the opening Dalbeattie test. However, on the repeat run, the 208 would suffer a puncture at the halfway point of the stage, meaning he would now be over 44 seconds away from the leader.

Such is the competition in the JBRC, Creighton would have a tough task ahead to even make it onto the podium, let alone the top step but with the bit between his teeth, he embarked on an impressive fightback over the following loop of stages.

Two further fastest times followed and by the first service of the day, Creighton had vaulted up the leader board to fourth, reducing the deficit to the leader to 33 seconds. By this point, four stages remained and there was no let-up from Creighton. With three further quickest times, he entered the final stage just 2.8sec away from the lead – emerging 8.6sec to the good on that test, securing one of the most impressive fight backs’ in the JBRC’s history.

“We are all delighted, so happy to get the win today and after this morning’s puncture, I didn’t think that would happen at all,” said Creighton.

“Obviously a win is what we were going for this weekend but when we got held back with that puncture I thought that was it. But then I had the Cambrian Rally in the back of my mind which had a similar story. I had a puncture on the fifth stage to come back to just 1.9 seconds away from the win. But I`m just over the moon to have taken the win here, for myself and the DGM Sport team, Peugeot, Total and Race and Rally, everyone that has supported me this season.”

Its been a tough season for Creighton and he was delighted to end it on a high in Scotland.

“The Peugeot has been the car to beat this year, it’s won every JBRC round bar one and the title of course so I`m glad we continued that form here today. It was a tough battle to overhaul Marty [Gallagher] over those closing stages and proves how much talent there is from the Motorsport Ireland stable. It all feels pretty good right now”.

Creighton will now head to the final round of the ITRC in a bid to secure the class honours at the Cork “20 International next weekend.

Image credit: Colin Smith

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