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William Creighton believes that this weekend’s Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally will play a “crucial” part in his Junior British Rally Championship campaign as the series heads to Ireland for the second round (14/15 March).

The Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award nominee enjoyed a dream start to his season, acclimatising perfectly to his new M-Sport Fiesta R2T to win the opening round in Wales last month. However, the 22-year-old from Moira in Co. Down and co-driver Liam Regan will have to call on all their previous asphalt experience to stay ahead of the field on the two-day closed-road event.

After campaigning a Peugeot 208 R2 for the past few years, Creighton would make the switch to the Ford marque in 2020 as the Junior BRC converted to a single-make series with support from M-Sport and Pirelli. Creighton currently leads the race after his Cambrian Rally glory which saw him take the top step of the podium by over 22 seconds from his nearest rivals.

Now, the Championship embarks on the first of four rounds on asphalt and one of the toughest in the calendar, with over 220 kilometres and 14 stages spread over two days on the Irish coast. In a change from the “sprint style” of the opening forest round to one of the longest events of the year, Creighton believes that the West Cork Rally could play a pivotal part in his season.

“There is no doubt that there could be a few surprises this weekend and there are more than enough experienced competitors in the Junior BRC to mean that we simply cannot guarantee a repeat performance of the Cambrian [Rally]” says Creighton.

“The pace will be pretty intense in Cork and a good result will be crucial for the rest of the championship. It could very well be a win or lose event.”

Creighton utilised last weekend’s Mayo Stages Rally to get his first taste of the Fiesta on the Irish lanes. Despite breaking a wheel after an impact with a rock during the event, Creighton feels confident heading into this weekend’s BRC qualifier.

“We had a good run at the Mayo Stages last weekend and used it as a shakedown which was essential as I hadn’t had any experience of the car on the unique Irish Tarmac before that. It offered the chance to find a good base setup, so we have something to work from and hit the ground running in Cork. There will be no room for error that’s for sure so we will need to draw on all our previous experience to ensure a good result for our championship”.

The West Cork Rally starts on Saturday morning with eight stages and 100 kilometres before an early evening finish and overnight halt. The remainder of the event is played out over Sunday ahead of the ceremonial finish celebrations in Clonakilty town centre.

Image credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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