Tue 22 Aug 2023

Why picking this year’s FIA Junior WRC champion is no easy task

As the curtain falls on an exhilarating 2023 FIA Junior WRC season, the task of selecting a victor from the fiercely competitive M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 field has never been more complex.

At first glance, it might appear that William Creighton has the championship securely in his grasp. Entering the twilight of his third year in this one-make series, the Irish star enjoys a commanding 29-point lead over France's Laurent Pellier.

But the upcoming EKO Acropolis Rally Greece, the fifth and final round taking place from 7 - 10 September, has the potential to turn predictions upside down.

First and foremost, the Lamia-based finale offers the tantalising prospect of double classification points. Further heightening the stakes, each stage win grants an additional point, theoretically allowing drivers to boost their tally by a mighty 65 points across the 15-stage fixture.

And the championship landscape becomes even tighter when we discount the leading contenders’ weakest results. Taking into account the dropped scores as it stands, Creighton trims a mere six points from his tally, reducing it to 90.

Pellier, meanwhile, maintains a haul of 67 because of his Croatia Rally non-finish while Diego Dominguez, currently third in the series, surrenders 12 points - leaving him with a total of 52.

After crunching the numbers, six of the eight Greece entrants remain in mathematical contention of seizing the coveted title. Aside from Creighton, Pellier and Dominguez, Tom Rensonnet, Roberto Blach and Eamonn Kelly also stand an outside chance.

Victory for Creighton at the final round, even if he doesn’t claim a single stage win, would be enough. Any less than that, however, and Wolf Stage Win Points are likely to be the deciding factor.

In essence, every driver will have to go flat-out. But, on roads lined with potentially rally-ending rocks and obstacles, finishing Friday's opening leg, which only has a tyre fitting zone between two loops of stages, will be a challenge in itself. Finding the right balance is key.

The stakes are undeniably monumental. On offer to the eventual champion is a career-changing prize boasting four fully-funded WRC2 drives in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 for 2024, including a pre-event test and 200 Pirelli tyres.

We can’t wait.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM