Encouraged by her second-place finish in the Rally4 class on her recent Spanish Gravel Rally debut, Galway’s Aoife Raftery has placed an entry for an asphalt rally in the same country this weekend.
Two weeks ago the Peugeot 208 Rally4 driver finished second in class in Rally Ciudad de Pozoblanco. The eight-stage gravel rally was the Craughwell-based Raftery’s first attempt at a Spanish rally.
She faced some of Spain’s top Rally4 contenders on her way to second in class.
That success has enticed to her do more Spanish events and the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s first female driver has entered this weekend’s all-asphalt Rallye Ciudad de Valencia.
The rally, which takes place on Friday evening and all-day Saturday is made up of eight stages across 117 km of sealed surface roads. It is the final round of the Spanish Tarmac Rally Championship.
She will be co-driven by County Antrim’s Hannah McKillop.
“I am looking forward to my first tarmac event in Spain,” she said.
“I had a good run on the recent gravel rally with Hannah alongside and we are both looking forward to another rally with the PCRS Rallysport team. It is all a good experience; we are going there to improve and gain that experience. It is another different style of rally with two stages in the dark on Friday night. I have very little experience of night driving and it will be an exciting way to start the rally. Thanks to the Academy and my sponsors, it is nice to be able to do a rally when things are quietening down at home.”
Raftery’s Peugeot 208 Rally4 will be prepared, as usual, by PCRS Rallysport.
The Spain-based Irish rally team will also field a Hyundai i20 Rally2 for Tyrone’s Philip Allen and his Welsh co-driver Dale Furniss. They finished seventh in their most recent Spanish outing - Rallye La Nucía-Mediterráneo – in early November.
Watch Aoife Chat about the rally this weekend below
Spa Rally Belgium
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Grace O’Brien wrapped up her Belgian season by competing in the Spa Rally. She was on co-driving duty for Clare’s Niall O’Sullivan in a Peugeot 208 Rally4.
They tackled the five-round Stellantis Cup Belux this year and finished sixth in the well-supported one-make championship’s final round.
The Spa Rally is notoriously difficult. Every sort of weather condition was thrown at the Irish crew but they persevered and made it to the finish.
“The Spa Rally was an adventure from start to finish with some of the craziest conditions I've ever rallied,” said the Cork-based co-driver.
“195 kilometres of stages, over two days, in snow and torrential rain over a mixture of tight, twisty, narrow roads and wide open, fast flowing conditions. All completely new to us, our knowledge was limited but we had a fantastic team behind us all weekend, with huge thanks to Nicolas Plas and his team. It's been an incredible experience and we're delighted to have finished.”
Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy co-driver Lorcan Moore and his driver Casey Jay Coleman will contest this weekend’s Coppermines Grizedale Rally in Cumbria.
The rally will begin with a Friday evening stage through Grizedale East in the dark and will be followed by more stages in Grizedale West on Saturday.
Between the two runs in Grizedale West, the rally will visit Broughton Moor for the first time since 2019.
The rally is based around the village of Coniston in the Lake District.
Text by Sean Moriarty