Having narrowly missed out three times, William Creighton vowed this would be his year to win the British Junior rally title - and he made the perfect start in the Welsh forests.
Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan were the decisive Junior winners of the Cambrian Rally in their RT2 Ford Fiesta but there was heartbreak for Josh McErlean, the driver who pipped Creighton to the title last season.
McErlean stepped up to the main R5 category and the 20-year-old was in the thick of the battle for overall honours, climbing as high as third place on a leaderboard which contained reigning BRC champion Matt Edwards and a trio of drivers with World Championship experience.
But an error on the penultimate stage saw the Billy Coleman award winner from Kilrea clip a rock, break the steering of his Hyundai and bring his impressive run to an end.
It was Edwards, on his home ground - he's from the rally's Rhos-on-Sea service base - who won for the second year in a row in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta ahead of the Hyundai of another Welshman Osian Pryce with Rhys Yates, straight from the Monte Carlo Rally, third in his Fiesta.
New to the Championship, the Iriz Protons of Ollie Mellors and James Williams finished fourth and fifth with Tom Cave, who had led after the first stage, recovering to sixth after tearing a wheel off his Hyundai.
Conor McCourt was the best of the Ulster finishers in ninth place in his Fiesta after punctures forced his brother Cathan, the Irish forest champion, to retire on stage three.
Creighton made the switch from his regular Peugeot 208 to an RT2 Fiesta to chase the Junior title and its €60,000 prize and despite having little pre-rally time to prepare, the Moira student adapted quickly to the car, taking the lead on the second stage and staying solidly in front until the end with fastest times on four of the seven stages.
He finished 16th overall, well clear of second-placed Finlay Retson with Donegal's David Kelly in third on his BRC debut.
Alan Carmichael was 12th overall, the Ballymoney driver, partnered by Clare Williams, winning the national category in a right-hand-drive R5 Hyundai.
Round two is in West Cork next month, the Championship's first of two visits to this side of the Irish Sea, when they will be joined by the Irish Tarmac Championship contenders. The Ulster Rally in August, which Edwards won last year, also doubles up as part of both series.
Meanwhile, Simon and Gary Woodside won the Rospark Targa Rally in a tight finish involving David Crothers and Barbara Kane. Steven Kane and Cromie and David Stewart were third, all three crews driving MX-5 Mazdas.