Sun 12 Feb 2023

Comeback King Creighton edges Pellier in Junior WRC snowdown

William Creighton delivered a stunning comeback drive at Rally Sweden, dethroning Laurent Pellier late on Sunday to take his maiden FIA Junior WRC victory.

The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver was dealt a devastating blow on Saturday’s penultimate leg as, after building up a sizeable lead in the Ford Fiesta Rally3 category, he dropped over a minute when his car’s bonnet flew up mid-stage.

Heading into Sunday’s finale with 19.7 seconds to make up - and with only three stages to do so - Creighton’s glory hopes looked to be in doubt. He pressed on regardless and was shocked to find he’d reduced that deficit to just 6.1sec after blitzing Pellier in the day’s opener.

The next test was equally as successful for Creighton as he passed his French rival to carry a 2.7sec advantage into the Wolf Power Stage. Pellier had the edge in the finale, but his efforts were in vain as Creighton remained ahead to clinch victory by just six-tenths of a second.

It’s the second-closest Junior WRC finish in history. The closest was at Rally Finland in 2015, when Quentin Gilbert beat Henri Haapamäki by 0.5sec.

"It's been extremely stressful since yesterday afternoon,” Creighton admitted. “Going to bed last night, I was doing my best to think that it was still possible, but it was difficult.

"I just can't believe we’ve managed it. I didn't lift for the final jump in the last stage, and I've never been so glad!"

More than two minutes behind the frontrunning pair in third overall was Paraguay’s Diego Dominguez. He held a 34.2sec advantage over Grégoire Munster, with Spanish pair Raúl Hernández and Roberto Blach taking fifth and sixth respectively.

Tom Rensonnet and Hamza Anwar completed the leaderboard, while Eamonn Kelly failed to finish after breaking a wishbone when he hit a rock on SS16.

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