Two Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy members confirmed for 2023 Junior World Rally Championship
Eamonn Kelly and Matt Edwards on the finish ramp of the Artic Rally in Finland on Saturday - Photo: ERA Motorsport Media
The entry list for the Junior World Rally Championship has been announced and there is plenty of Irish interest in the five-round championship. The challenge ahead of 2023’s nine youngsters is a five-round calendar starting on the snow and ice of Rally Sweden and goes on to sample every surface represented on the WRC calendar: snow, ice, asphalt, and a variety of gravel surfaces.
It will get underway next month in Sweden and before reaching its conclusion in Greece in September, it will take in World Rally Championship events in Croatia, Italy, and Estonia. This year’s entrants will be vying for the biggest prize in rallying; Four fully-funded WRC2 prize drives in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2, including 200 Pirelli tyres, free registration for WRC 2 in 2024 and a pre-event test for each round. All competitors will drive identical Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars prepared by M-Sport Poland.
“This number of entries for the start of the season in Junior WRC speaks volumes about the success and growing popularity of the championship,” said FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager Maciej Woda, “We have a very impressive line-up of entries for the opening round of the season in Sweden. With so many new entries, I am really excited about the championship fight ahead of us this year and it is going to be exciting and unpredictable!”
William Creighton will contest this weekend's Rallye Monte Carlo in preparation for the Junior World Rally Championship
William Creighton / Liam Regan
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy member Creighton is heading into his third season of Junior WRC. His debut season saw him break through to the international stage, with rapid improvement from battling for top-five times to ending the season with a host of Wolf Stage Win Points to his name. In 2022, Creighton continued to improve on his impressive form, claiming two podium positions and yet more Wolf Stage Win Points. For 2023 his sights are set firmly on event wins and challenging for the championship.
“It’s extremely exciting and a huge privilege to return to the Junior World Rally Championship in 2023,” said Creighton.
“It is one of the most competitive motorsport series in the world and it offers the opportunity to go head-to-head with some of the fastest junior drivers at the moment.
“The whole season is always ultra-close and this year I`ll have the benefit of a full campaign in the Fiesta Rally3 behind me which should stand me in good stead for a top result this time around.”
Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan are preparing for the year ahead by contesting this weekend’s Rallye Monte Carlo driving a PCRS Rallysport Hyundai Rally2.
Eamonn Kelly / Conor Mohan
Like Creighton, the Donegal man took in an extra rally ahead of the season start. With the Junior World Rally Championship getting underway on the snow and ice of Sweden, Kelly tackled last weekend’s Arctic Rally in Finland to gain experience on the white stuff. Under the guidance of triple British Rally Champion Matt Edwards, he learned the nuances of making pace notes and driving in snow. The event regulations allowed a multiple-pass recce, but Kelly stuck to J-WRC rules and only made and checked notes.
“It was a big event, and much the same format as a WRC rally,” he said. “Going to Sweden won't be as daunting after this.”
Both Kelly and Creighton have won the Junior British Rally Championship and Kelly heads to Junior WRC fresh off the back of his title success in the same fashion as Creighton in 2021. Proving himself on both gravel and asphalt, Kelly won the prestigious Billy Coleman Award, which is presented by Motorsport Ireland each year to a promising young driver.
Casey Jay Coleman/ Adam Coffey
Although not registered for the Junior Championship this season, Coleman and Coffey will complete the recce on all five rounds in preparation for a potential full campaign next year.
2023 Junior WRC calendar:
Rally Sweden - 09-12 February
Croatia Rally - 20-23 April
Rally Italy - 01-04 June
Rally Estonia - 20-23 July
Rally Greece - 07-10 September