Portadown’s Ben Crealey reached a memorable milestone on Saturday.
The 17-year-old driver posted a first class win of the championship as, alongside Phil Hall, he steered his Ford Fiesta ST to top spot at the Nicky Grist Stages Rally in Wales.
That success in the N3 category for two-litre production specification cars marked a welcome return to the sport following a three-month break due to examinations.
However, he swapped the books last weekend for a testing 45-mile route around the Epynt Military Ranges.
Each session featured four stages and Crealey wrapped up the first two by jumping from 134 to 84 within the 180-strong field.
A problem with a car in front led to the class leaders progressing from stage three on to four - with the timing system used to calculate the positions at the halfway point putting Crealey down to second.
However, a strong second session left Crealey and Hall clear by 1 minute 17 seconds for class success and a position overall of 61.
“We knew it was important to finish the rally, so we didn’t want to take any chances”, said Crealey. “I’m therefore pleased that, even driving within my limits, we were able to win the class by over a minute on only my second-ever gravel rally.
“I must thank Geoff Jones Motorsport for doing such a good job of preparing the car and I’m now looking forward to my next event.
“That will be the Ulster Rally across August 14 and 15.
“This event will represent yet another first for me, as I have never competed in a multi-venue tarmac rally before.”
Loughgall’s Peter Bennett missed out on victory by a single second in the latest McGrady Insurance ANICC Junior 1000 Rally Challenge Ireland meeting.
The Bishopscourt event finished with Josh Just home first at the expense of Bennett, the latter currently second in the overall standings after four rounds.
The competition is open to drivers between 14 and 17 years old, with Bennett’s gear problems across two stages forcing him down to runner-up despite some superb early stages.
Marshall Neill had plenty to smile about from his latest visit to Knockhill in Scotland.
The Portadown rider clocked up fourth across the sprint section and runner-up in the main race during a successful British Supersport Evo Championship outing.
The IN Competition Racing ace currently stands second in the overall Evo standings.
“I was happy enough with my results, although I do feel I had the pace to finish higher in both races,” said Neill. “I was very lucky not to crash during the second race when I run wide on to the grass.
“Thankfully, I was able to save it and get the podium.
“Thanks to all my personal sponsors and team sponsors.”