Eighteen year old RBAI student William Creighton, from Moira, kicked off the summer term in style by entering his first ever Circuit of Ireland Rally.
William, who is studying hard for A Levels in maths, business studies and physics, will be taking some time off this weekend to compete in his first ever International Circuit in a smart new factory built Peugeot 208 R2.
But William’s biggest fan, his dad Niall won’t actually be watching William, as he’ll be competing at the Circuit alongside his son albeit in the Circuit’s National event. Niall has been part of the local rally fraternity for over 30 years and has lost count of the number of times he’s competed in the Circuit! This year alongside co-driver Gregory Roberts he’ll be part of the ‘historic’ entry driving a rare 1965 mark 1 Lotus Cortina.
William who in his teens chalked up top successes in karting and was the UK Junior 1000 champion in 2014 following an emphatic win at Blyton, Lincolnshire, is competing in this season’s Irish Tarmac Rally Championship and has solid performances in recent Galway and West Cork rallies under his belt.
William is competing in the Circuit with 27 year old Belfast based co-driver Liam Regan, a partnership which harks back to William’s junior days and one which William (and his dad) hope will bear fruits.
“Since moving over to rallying in 2013, my first few seasons have been really enjoyable and it was fantastic to be named UK Young Rally Driver of the Year in November 2014. Now I’m moving up a gear and it’s fabulous to be part of an event which has star names Craig Breen, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Elfyn Evans. I’m very much looking forward to the challenge and to experiencing many of the tremendous stages in counties Antrim and Down.
The busy sixth former has plans to undertake additional rallies this summer but isn’t taking his eye off the ball in terms of studying. “I enjoy business management and am hoping to study further either here in Northern Ireland or in Scotland. I’m also getting some hands on experience working at my dad’s retail forecourt and petrol station. But I definitely plan to keep up with my rallying and see where it takes me in the future. It’s a brilliant sport which of course I got into because of my dad and both he and my mum have been hugely supportive in helping me achieve my goals. Hopefully we’ll both get personal bests this week-end at the Circuit.”
Fans will have several opportunities to see the rally action which finishes on Saturday 9th April.
Friday 8th April features rural stages close to Larne and Ballymena and includes a refuel halt at the famous Ballymena Showgrounds. Friday’s route includes stages encompassing Torr Head and Glendun as well as a passage control at the Dark Hedges and a regroup at Bushmills Distillery.
A special Ards TT Stage will take place in Newtownards town centre on Friday evening 8th April. Competitive rallying on the Saturday will include stages close to Banbridge, Ballynahinch and Dromore with town centre regroups in Downpatrick and Banbridge.
The rally will finish back in Belfast on the evening of Saturday April 9th and will culminate in a special closing ceremony outside Queen’s University when the 2016 winners will be presented with the famous historic Circuit of Ireland trophy.
The King’s Hall complex in South Belfast will this year be the site of the Rally HQ and Service Park, where competitors and team personnel will converge over a four day period from Wednesday 6th April.
The Circuit of Ireland Rally runs to 9th April and is the second of 10 rounds in the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship. The 2016 event is also part of the 2016 British Championship (BRC) the Irish Tarmac Championship series and is a counting round of the Northern Ireland Championship. Last year, the Circuit of Ireland attracted almost 80,000 spectators across the three day rally festival and a global TV audience of 40 million.
The 2016 Circuit of Ireland Rally is supported by Tourism Ireland, Tourism NI and eight regional councils; Antrim and Newtownabbey; Ards and North Down; Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon; Belfast City Council; Causeway Coast and Glens; Lisburn & Castlereagh; Mid and East Antrim; Newry, Mourne and Down District.
The Circuit team would also welcome additional volunteers to help manage each of the stages and anyone interested can contact organisers via the volunteer page on www.circuitofireland.net.