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Fri 21 Apr 2023

Junior leader Creighton lays down gauntlet on Friday

FIA Junior WRC star William Creighton emerged on top of a close-fought battle with Frenchman Laurent Pellier after a thrilling Friday at Croatia Rally.

It was reigning FIA Junior ERC champion Pellier who set the early pace, claiming a huge 15.4sec advantage after the rally's opening stage – Mali Lipovec – Grdanjci. Impressively, he achieved that despite requiring a three-point turn to negotiate a notorious hairpin left. 

But when the M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 field revisited the same test in the afternoon, Creighton returned Pellier's morning blow - going a remarkable 18.8sec quicker than the Frenchman to move ahead by 3.9sec in the overall standings.

With points on offer for every stage win and not just content with conserving his newfound lead, Creighton continued to push and won the remaining three stages to complete the first day of action with a nine-second buffer over Pellier.

While the second running of Mali Lipovec – Grdanjci would be memorable for all the right reasons for Irishman Creighton, it was just the opposite for Roberto Blach. The Spanish rookie's day came to an end when he and co-driver Mauro Barreiro went off the road, retiring from third overall. 

Benefitting from Blach’s misfortune was fellow Junior WRC newcomer Diego Domínguez, who moved into podium position 2min 44sec back from the lead. Spain’s Raul Hernandez and Ireland’s Eamonn Kelly completed the top five.

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