William Creighton and Liam Regan got their first taste of snow and Rally3 driving in Sweden earlier this month. The County Antrim duo head back to the World Rally Championship in 2022 and have already sampled Scandinavian rallying ahead of Junior WRC’s opening round, Rally Sweden.
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Creighton completed the LBC-Ruschen Rally in blizzard conditions. His eye-opening experience was preceded by a two-day test which offered another set of conditions to prepare for Rally Sweden.
“You can watch as many onboards as you like before driving on snow but it’s hard to know what to expect,” explained Creighton. “We did two days of testing and the conditions were perfect for both days. We couldn’t have asked for a better start.
“The first day focused on the new car, four-wheel-drive, even regardless of the fact we were on snow. I was just getting to grips with that.
“On the second day we just tried to play with the set-up.”
Local experts Robin Friberg and Mattias Adielsson were on hand to provide some invaluable advice on the test as Creighton got on top of his new surroundings.
Motorsport Ireland’s test session, which also included the Hyundai crew of Josh McErlean and James Fulton, was followed by a trip to Lima to tackle the LBC-Ruschen.
The national rally was described by Creighton as Sweden’s take on the Bushwhacker. Over 200 cars, including an endless list of Volvos, took on the snow spectacular.
“The first stage was quite rutted,” described Creighton. “I guess that is what we will see on Rally Sweden, but it wasn’t as enjoyable to drive on.
“Then the sky emptied with snow on the next two stages. It was proper blizzard conditions, crazy to be honest.
“The last two tests were in the dark and it was hard to see where we were going. It’s difficult to pick out the road covered in snow in daylight so in the dark with a blizzard it was even trickier.
“It is very different driving on a road with fresh snow on top compared to a compacted ice surface.
“The car moves around a lot more and it’s definitely a lot more difficult. The roads were fast, narrow, and once the back of the car came out of the ruts onto the loose it became quite unpredictable.
“At least I know what that is like, though, if it does happen on Rally Sweden.”
Creighton’s trip to Sweden was his first proper time sampling Junior WRC’s new car for 2022, M-Sport Poland’s Rally3 Fiesta. Despite the desperate conditions in Lima, Creighton enjoyed his new four-wheel-drive machine.
Although he didn’t have any direct rivals to compare his pace to, Creighton reckons the step-up from front-wheel-drive Rally4 is proving to be a natural one.
With five days at home before returning to Scandinavia for Rally Sweden, Creighton is deep in rally preparation mode. His Junior WRC competition remains as stiff as ever and the return of Nordic rivals means Creighton is not getting too far ahead of himself.
“I’m back to where we started in 2021, we are in at the deep end.
“It’s a new rally, a new surface, and four-wheel-drive, so I just need to learn how to get onto it as quickly as possible.
“Sweden could be a survival rally. It will be tricky but I am really looking forward to getting out there again.”
Photos by Jan Rosenkvist and Kenneth Nyström
This post is dedicated to Eoin McCarthy who sadly lost his life following an accident on Sunday’s Killarney Forestry Rally. Rally Insight sends its condolences to those who knew Eoin. My thoughts are with you all, including co-driver Daniel O’Brien, at this heartbreaking time.