Northern Ireland was well represented in the Junior World Rally Championships Estonia event recently which provided valuable experience for William Creighton while Jon Armstrong brought home some silverware.
Jon Armstrong continued his fast return to rally driving this year by claiming second in Junior WRC’s third round – Rally Estonia. Navigated by Phil Hall, the English-based crew finished 24 seconds behind winner Sami Pajari and 32 seconds ahead of Mārtiņš Sesks.
It was a crucial result for the Codemasters DiRT Rally Team as it keeps them in the overall Junior WRC battle. Finland’s Pajari now leads the championship, just 15 points ahead of Armstrong, with two rounds remaining.
Armstrong scored five stage-winning bonus points on Rally Estonia which could also play an important role in the championship standings at the end of the year.
“We are really happy to finish second on Rally Estonia,” explained Armstrong. “Pre-event we were thinking third would be a great result.
“Just because of the high-speed nature of the roads and the event, in general, was a lot more like Finland than what I was expecting.
“I didn’t really know how competitive we would be but early on we saw that the pace wasn’t so bad. Our confidence was good and we were only 13 seconds off the lead at the end of the first full day.
“It is definitely an important result for the championship. To get so many points on an event we knew was our weakest of the year is very promising.”
Meanwhile Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver William Creighton endured a tough weekend behind the wheel as he tackled the third round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, Rally Estonia (15-18 July).
Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan continued to build experience of world-level events, tackling the gruelling and super-fast roads of Estonia to record their third solid finish in the hotly contested Junior WRC category.
Keeping his M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally4 largely out of trouble throughout the 314-kilometre rally, Creighton was eager to take the positives away from the weekend’s performance.
“I’m really pleased with another finish on the board this season and happy that we stuck to the plan to simply get the experience of the event, terrain and what we could expect in the future,” said Creighton.
“As we said a few weeks ago, I believe that you needed to take quite a few risks to be on the pace of the front runners and Estonia was a rally that we knew could bite back harder than most. It was one that we signalled out to be a potential season-breaker so had decided to really do our own thing and enjoy it for what it was. Even though we were not on the lead pace, it was such a tough rally and I`m glad we took the approach we did”.
The focus now turns to the penultimate round of the Junior WRC as the series heads to Belgium for the Ypres Rally. Whilst the event has not been on the World Rally Championship calendar previously, Creighton is feeling much more confident about the upcoming encounter.
“I’ve finished on the Junior BRC podium twice in Ypres so the experience from that will certainly be advantageous” he explains.
“It’s the only event in the Junior WRC I`ve done before so my approach will be slightly different to that of the rest of the season. I don’t want to make too many predictions of course; this year is still about experience and learning but I`d like to think we can let ourselves off the leash a little and see what we can do.”
With three Junior WRC rounds now complete, crews will head to Belgium mid-August before a break ahead of the final event in Spain which is scheduled for mid-October.