Wed 19 Jul 2023

Why ERC3 is great training for Junior WRC

William Creighton and Eamonn Kelly have spoken about the benefit of using the FIA European Rally Championship to prepare for the FIA Junior WRC Championship, which they’re contesting this season.

Creighton took part on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia earlier this month, while Kelly contested Tet Rally Liepāja in mid-June.

They were both behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta Rally3, identical to the type they use in Junior WRC, which continues on Rally Estonia from tomorrow (Thursday).

Although Creighton’s running in Sweden was truncated by tyre damage on the opening leg, he said afterwards that the experience gained mattered far more than the final result following his restart on day two.

“You don’t get opportunities like this all the time so when it’s not going as well as you’d hoped it’s disappointing, but the important element of the Sweden weekend was to prepare for Estonia,” Creighton said. “Doing this fast gravel rally helped us to think towards Estonia and how we can improve.

“Sweden is very different to Estonia but quite similar in that the speed is so high and Estonia is very different in nature to Sardinia [venue of the last JWRC round in June].

“The high-speed, flat-out roads over crests and jumps isn’t what we’re used to back home [in Ireland]. I’ve always felt it’s something I’ve had to work on so hopefully a bit of experience over the last couple of years will help and I felt a lot more comfortable [in Estonia] than last year.”

Kelly (above), who has one JWRC win to Creighton’s two in 2023, was a non-priority entrant on Tet Rally Liepāja and finished sixth among the RC3 category contenders. He was impressed by the level of competition – and the pace of the high-speed gravel stages.

“It was eye-opening in terms of the speed and good for us to build experience of a fast gravel rally and know where we need to improve for the next one,” Kelly said of his Latvia outing. “The Rally3 pace was really, really high, we saw Jon [Armstrong] setting times in the top 10 so clearly the quality of the drivers and the pace is just as good as in the Junior WRC. There were some mega battling behind in Junior ERC, it’s a fantastic championship.”

Rally di Roma Capitale hosts round six of the 2023 ERC season from 28 - 30 July.

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