A history-making Irish father and son are set to go head-to-head against each other in a round of the FIA European Rally Championship this weekend.
Motorsport Ireland co-drivers Mac and Arthur Kierans are both contesting the BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia alongside junior contestants in the third round of the Junior FIA European Rally Championship.
Mac will compete in the event with Australian driver Max McRae. At the same time, his father Arthur has been recruited by Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Aoife Raftery for the two-day event that is based in Karlstad in the Värmland region of Sweden.
Both McRae and Raftery are competing in the junior element of the series in almost identical cars.
McRae and Arthurs will drive an Opel Corsa while Raftery and Arthurs compete in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Peugeot 208.
They are seeded one after the other, McRae at 32 and Raftery one place behind adding to the challenge and excitement for the son and father.
Galway woman Raftery is competing in her third FIA Junior European Rally Championship event and arrives in Sweden on the back of her best domestic result to date.
Just over a week ago, she finished 15th overall and first in her class in the Moonraker Forestry Rally in County Cork at the wheel of the Ford Fiesta that she uses on Irish rallies.
“Really looking forward to taking part in the Royal Rally of Scandinavia, as the third round of the Junior European Championship, the stages look great, the competition is high. I am looking forward to keep building on our own performance, it is an amazing opportunity we can’t wait to hit the stages,” said Galway driver Raftery.
“Arthur Kierans is co-driving for me this weekend so it is great to have him and his knowledge and experience on board as well.”
Watch a summary video of Aoife at the Moonraker Forest rally here:
It is also a busy time for Mac Kierans. He and McRae tackled last weekend’s Rali de Castelo Branco, an all-tarmac round of the Portuguese Rally Championship.
They were running as high as tenth overall in the same Corsa they are using in Sweden this weekend until a mechanical issue prevented them from starting leg two on Saturday.
Also in action in Portugal at the weekend was Motorsport Ireland co-driver James Fulton.
He was on pace note duty for Kris Meeke in a Hyundai Portugal-run Hyundai i20 Rally 2 on the same rally as Kierans where they took a start-to-finish victory, their second win of the campaign.
Fulton made his way direct from Portugal to the Royal Rally of Scandinavia where he will partner with Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Josh McErlean in a PCRS Rallysport-run Hyundai i20 Rally 2.
Last time out, at the Let Rally Liepaja in Latvia, last month, they finished an impressive fourth, McErlean’s career-best result to date at European level.
Royal Rally of Scandinavia takes place over gravel roads that were previously used in the all-snow Rally Sweden that was based in the region up to 2020.
“We are looking to build on the momentum from Liepaja,” said McErlean from Kilrea in County Derry.
“We were pushing for the podium there and we need to keep pushing forward. This is a new rally for everyone, it looks a lot like Finland, and that will help next month when we go there.
“There no real reference points when you look at old on-boards, the last time we were there the place was covered in snow and ice.”
FOUR IRISH CREWS
Raftery and McErlean are two of four Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy crews contesting the Royal Rally of Scandinavia.
Joining them in The Royal Rally of Scandinavia - the summer version of Sweden’s FIA World Rally Championship counter when it took place on roads that were previously covered in snow and ice – are brothers Patrick and Stephen O’Brien who will drive their own Skoda Fabia Rally 2.
William Creighton and Liam Regan who have been drafted into the M-Sport Poland Rally 3 team to replace the promoted Jon Armstrong.
Creighton and Regan tested the Fiesta on Tuesday morning where the car’s livery, complete with Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy branding was unveiled for the first time.
Text by Sean Moriarty