William Creighton has become the new Junior World Rally champion after a tense final round on Acropolis Rally Greece.
Diego Domínguez won the event, which awarded double points, but that was not enough to deny Creighton who recovered from a retirement on Friday to finish fifth and win the title.
Creighton has led this year’s Junior WRC since the very beginning after an epic 0.6-second victory over Laurent Pellier in Sweden.
He therefore headed into the Acropolis as title favorite, but the unpredictable nature of the rally, plus the double points aspect, meant it was far from guaranteed.
On the first morning it all went wrong for the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver, who was forced to retire at the tire fitting zone with mechanical problems.
Domínguez and Pellier were barely split in the championship and couldn’t be split on the leaderboard after Friday either – incredibly sharing the exact same time overnight.
But the luckless Pellier, who was denied the chance to win in Croatia earlier this year with an engine problem, was forced out early on Saturday morning with a transmission problem.
That left Domínguez clear out front, but incredible work from the M-Sport Poland mechanics had ensured Creighton could restart – and he soon worked himself back into the box seat.
Throwing caution to the wind, Creighton began to build up his tally of stage wins (which awards extra points) and Pellier’s retirement allowed him to move into an overall position that left Domínguez powerless.
With his destiny in his own hands, all Creighton had to do on the final day was make the finish and that’s exactly what he did – even if the circumstances were anti-climactic with the final stage called off for the Junior WRC runners.
But it’s an emotional result for Ireland after such a difficult year with the loss of Craig Breen – the only other Irish driver to have won the WRC’s junior class.
Creighton’s prize is a four-round program in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 in the 2024 WRC2 season, complete with 200 free Pirelli tires.