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Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award nominee William Creighton stormed to an inspiring Junior British Rally Championship victory at the opening round of the series, the Llandudno based Cambrian Rally (8th February).

Creighton, 22 from Moira in Co. Down grabbed hold of his brand new M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 to fight back from fourth place after the opening stage to claim victory by 22.5 seconds from his nearest rival after seven stages and over 43 miles of competitive action in the North Wales forests.

His impressive achievement means he and co-driver Liam Regan top the Junior BRC leader board and leads the race for the €60,000 prize fund towards an FIA Junior World Rally Championship programme in 2021 thanks to M-Sport and Pirelli.

The 2017 and 2019 Junior British Rally Championship runner up has made the switch to the Ford marque this season as the series shifts to a single make Ford Fiesta formula. Creighton has enjoyed significant success behind the wheel of his Peugeot 208 since 2015 which has seen the talented youngster secure titles in the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, Irish Forestry and FIA Celtic Trophy.

Having only taken delivery of the Ford Fiesta a few days previously, the pressure was on to adapt to his new surroundings. With only a short test available before the rally, Creighton would need to learn the 1.0litre EcoBoost powered Fiesta, with the shift from a normally aspirated 1600cc Peugeot, providing the steepest learning curve.

The season-opening Cambrian Rally offered more of a “sprint style” of event and there would be no room for error on the stages, a simple puncture putting any crew out of contention. Despite being a short blast, many of the stages were similar to those used on Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB, challenging the best drivers in the world over the past few years.

Creighton would emerge from the opening four-mile Crafnant test in 4th overall, some six seconds away from the leader but professing to be “getting to grips” with the new steed with every passing mile.

Despite his lack of seat time in the car, normal service was resumed on the second test with Creighton beginning his fightback to set fastest Junior BRC time in the first pass of Gwydyr, making up one place to third overall in the process. The longest stage of the event, the 11-mile Penmachno test, offered Creighton’s best opportunity of the day to make inroads on the leaders and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Going a whopping 18 seconds faster than any other R2 crew on the event, Creighton vaulted from third to first to lead the coveted category at the halfway point of the event. The following Great Orme test provided a unique twist, utilising the Tarmac cliff-side road but Creighton took that all in his stride to head into the final three stages in command of the category.

He would put all his previous experience to good use on the final loop, keeping his cool to secure a perfect start to his Junior BRC campaign and spray the champagne at the top step of the podium on the Llandudno promenade.

“It’s unreal to win the first round,” remarked a delighted Creighton at the finish ramp.

“It’s been a really steep learning curve today and the hardest part has been knowing where the pace is and where I can push or where I can’t. The Fiesta is so very different from the Peugeot and I must admit after the first stage of the day I had a chat with Liam [Regan], and we pressed the reset button. As every mile passed, the confidence grew, and it was all about adapting to the car”.

Creighton believes there is more to come through the rest of the season.

“It’s the perfect start to our season but just as important to me is that there is more to come, and we haven’t reached anywhere near the full potential” he continues.

“There is more work to do all-round, but it is very positive. The team have worked so hard this week to get us here and everyone has really pulled together to make this season happen. We have to go away and carry this forward to West Cork”.

The next round of the season heads to Ireland, with a switch of surface as the closed public roads around Cork host both British and Irish Rally Championship contenders in March.

Image credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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