William Creighton is set to start his debut Junior World Rally Championship campaign with his eyes wide open. The 23-year-old will embark on April’s opening round, Rally Croatia, as the only driver with no previous JWRC experience.
Despite a positive result in the Czech Republic last weekend, where Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan finished as the second-fastest Rally4 crew, the Motorsport Ireland driver is bracing himself for the pace of world championship competition.
“I’ve got no expectations,” admitted Creighton. “We will just go and build our pace stage by stage.
“I need to mentally prepare myself that I’m not going to be the quickest driver straight away and that I’ll need to make improvements.
“The world championship rounds are huge events so you need to get to the finish of them. You’re going to come out of stages and be 30 seconds off whatever the quickest time is.
“So I just need to be prepared for that and not panic too early in the rallies. Instead, I need to stay focused and do the best I can do.”
The Northern Irish crew make the jump into the Junior WRC after three-and-a-bit years in the Junior British Rally Championship. Twice runners-up, the pair were title favourites last year before Covid-19 cancelled the series.
“In rallying the top line is the world championship so competing there this year is a huge step.
“Whenever you’re in the sport the WRC has to be the goal if you’re trying to go as far as possible.
“It has always been in our mind but sometimes it seemed a bit unrealistic. But we have planned and it’s finally happening so we are looking forward to getting it started.”
Creighton and Regan travelled to the Czech Republic last week to compete in their first event since Rally di Roma last July. The last-minute trip was rewarded with second spot in Rally2 on the Valašská Rally.
After taking a couple of stages to get up to speed on the opening day, Creighton was flying for the remaining tests, fastest on all but one of Sunday’s six stages. A cracked brake disc mellowed their fightback for a class win on the final stage as they finished a mere five seconds behind local Peugeot driver René Dohnal.
“It would’ve been nice to go for a bit of a push [on the final stage],” explained Creighton. “But it would have been silly to throw it away then or for something to happen that far into the rally.
“I have been running with DGM on events over the last while, so to run with a new team and a foreign team, Orsak Rallysport, was a great experience before we then start to work with the M-Sport team.
“Any experience on tarmac in Europe is going to be of benefit for Rally Croatia and any more miles in the car is going to help us before we start the Junior WRC.”
Creighton is joined by compatriot Jon Armstrong on the JWRC entry list this year. They crossed paths six years ago when Creighton was taking his first steps in Northern Irish closed-road rallying. Rally Croatia will be the first time since 2015 they will have faced each other in the same class.
It all makes for an intriguing five-round series as both crews face six other rapid drivers from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, and Romania.
Photos courtesy of rallyservice.cz