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JWRC - Creighton extends championship lead in Sardinia


2023 Rally Italia Sardegna - Junior WRC event report

William Creighton holds an impressive 32-point lead following a stunning victory on Rally Italia.
The Irishman kicked off his event with an opening super special stage win in the centre of Olbia but it was Diego Dominguez who emerged as the early rally leader on Friday morning as Raul Hernandez became the latest Junior WRC stage winner on stage three. 
The first pass of the daunting Monte Lerno stage lived up to its expectations as Creighton, Rensonnet and Pellier all lost time due to tyre changes while Dominguez sailed through to emerge with a two-minute lead.
The second pass of Monte Lerno proved to be even more dramatic, with every single Junior WRC crew stopping in the stage at least once. After all the drama unfolded, the fight swung back in Creighton’s favour who ended Friday with a 50 second lead over Dominguez.
Laurent Pellier ended Friday in third but five minutes adrift of the lead and headed into Saturday morning’s stages with a point to prove. He dominated the morning loop of stages, taking three stage wins from four stages as Creighton maintained his lead with Dominguez in tow in second.
Heavy rain swept across the afternoon’s stages setting Junior WRC up for more challenges. Dominguez took ten seconds out of Creighton’s lead on stage 12, taking a stage win in the process as Creighton’s fortunes turned on stage 13.
Creighton had to change a puncture and lost a minute to Dominguez while Pellier closed to within two minutes of the leader after starting the day five minutes adrift.
Following his trouble, Creighton launched a counter through stage 14, eclipsing Dominguez by over one minute to retake the lead. Meanwhile Pellier was making more gains in the stage until he slid off the stage and retired for the day. 
Creighton doubled down on his form, nailing his fourth stage win of the rally to consolidate a  two-minute and 18-second lead over second placed Dominguez. 
Four stages lay ahead of the Junior WRC crews on Sunday, as Raul Hernandez was the star of the day, delivering fastest time after fastest time as the top three had uneventful stages, being careful not to throw away a valuable result. 
Heavy rain made an appearance once again for the final stage of the rally, which eventually saw the cancellation of the stage. It meant William Creighton claimed his second victory of the season while delivering a huge margin in the championship with a 32-point lead over Dominguez who finished second. 
Maciej Woda, FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager, said: “Rally Italia has proven to be a very challenging event for the Junior WRC crews but also rewarding. Despite what his winning advantage might suggest, William’s victory was very hard earned, as he found himself playing catch up numerous times. Diego was there pretty much all weekend and led the rally briefly, I am sure we are going to see a lot more from him this year after his second podium of the season. Congratulations to Roberto too on another podium. His rally wasn’t without its challenges, doing a full loop of stages without pace notes, so to deliver a podium from there is a fantastic achievement.”
William Creighton, FIA Junior WRC rally winner, said: “So happy to get to the finish and get the win, it’s been up and down all weekend to be honest. Sometimes we were leading and then we were minutes off the lead but we got here and got the win. We wanted to get it in Croatia after what happened to Craig but that didn’t go to plan. I’m happy that we did it this weekend and thankful for everyone supporting me and it’s some good points for the championship.”