Creighton's bid for JWRC success
Liam Regan & William Creighton after winning JWRC Rally Sweden.
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver William Creighton has promised to do “the best he can” to bring the Junior World Rally Championship title back to Ireland this weekend. Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan are contesting this weekend’s EKO Acropolis Rally Grece, the final round of the five-round Junior World Rally Championship. The Irish crew arrived in Greece this week with a 29-point lead over French rival Laurent Pellier. With double points on offer and additional points for each stage win, the championship remains wide open. Add in the unpredictable nature of the rough and rocky roads of Greece and the rally’s result is an absolute lottery.
So far this year Creighton has been a shining light in the Junior World Rally Championship, his third attempt at the championship. He won in Sweden and Sardinia and has also accumulated an impressive 34 stage wins and the associated bonus points across the four rounds so far. Another factor is that the rally’s recce will take place over two and not the usual three days giving an idea of just how big the Irish crew’s challenge is over the coming days.
“It is going to be a long recce out and, of course, a long rally,” he said. “Greece is generally known for being so rough and I think it's going to be important to try and balance pace with trying to stay out of trouble which is easier said than done. “I think Friday is going to be a difficult day so we will try to get through that.”
Creighton is trying to emulate the late Craig Breen who won the WRC Academy in 2011 and the S-WRC the following year – both championships are forerunners to the current Junior World Rally Championship. If successful Creighton could win a career-boosting prize package which includes four fully funded WRC2 drives in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 for 2024, a pre-event test before each rally and 200 Pirelli tyres.
“Liam and I will just stay focused on the event. We've prepared well as we normally do. If we can enjoy it as well, that will help give a good performance but of course, it's a big week for us and we're going to try and do the best that we can,” he added. “The Acropolis is super rough and very hard on the car and then when you add in the heat, it will be really tough on both the car and crew. We will need to factor that into our approach and manage our weekend, ensuring we only push at the times where it's needed.”
It all comes down to the final round and 15 stages and around 300 kilometres of competitive driving stand in the way of Creghton's maiden World title.
“We have had to work hard this year and it hasn’t always been easy, but the support from Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy has been second to none. Preparation for this one of course has been very focused and we have been working a lot with on-boards to ensure that we have not left any stone unturned and coupled with some testing in my own car, we are ready for the challenge ahead,” he said.
Fellow Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver, Donegal’s Eamonn Kelly and his co-driver Conor Mohan are also contesting the legendary rally. They are currently seventh in the Junior WRC standings in what was their first year competing full-time at the sport’s highest level. Co-driver Aaron Johnston is also competing, alongside his usual driver Takamoto Katsuta in their Toyota Yaris Rally1. The Japanese/Irish pairing, fresh from a podium in Finland, will be making their second Acropolis start. This year celebrating 70 years as an international event, the Acropolis is known for rocky mountain roads and arduous conditions that provide a harsh test for cars, tyres, and crew As usual, the rally will begin in the Greek capital Athens on Thursday evening with a ceremonial start below the ancient Acropolis monuments, followed by an all-new super special stage on the city’s waterfront. From there, the route takes crews westwards to Lamia around which the rest of the rally is based. Saturday is the longest day with a 70.76-kilometre loop of three stages south of Lamia to be run twice on either side of mid-day service. This includes Karoutes, the longest stage of the weekend at 28.49 km. Sunday’s action takes place northwest of Lamia, starting with a single run over the classic Tarzan test. A final service separates two passes of Grammeni, which last featured in the WRC in 2005 and hosts the rally-ending Power Stage.