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Galway’s Aoife Raftery second in Rally4  Spanish Rally debut

Rally Ciudad de Pozoblanco

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy member Aoife Raftery impressed on her Spanish rally debut by taking second in the highly competitive Rally4 class.

The Craughwell-based driver entered Saturday’s Rally Ciudad de Pozoblanco, the penultimate round of the Spanish Super Championship.

With the Irish rally season all but over the Craughwell-based driver was keen to expand her international experience. This was her first Spanish event.

The first and so far, only female driver to be selected for the Rally Academy drove the same Peugeot 208 Rally4 that she used on five rounds of the FIA Junior European Rally Championship this year.

The car is prepared by Irish rally team PCRS Rallysport which is headquartered at Aragón racing circuit near Alcañiz in Spain and an opportunity arose to enter Raftery in the 93-kilometre gravel rally.

Raftery and co-driver Hannah McKillop started well by posting fourth-fastest time on the event’s opening stage.

Hannah Mc Killop on left / Aoife Raftery on right

By the day’s second service halt, the Irish crew were up to third place and a solid performance over the closing stages resulted in a second-place finish behind Spanish Junior championship frontrunner Santiago García Paz.

“It was great to get the opportunity to drive on classic Spanish gravel roads,” she said.
“The rally was very well run; we had a problem with dust early in the day but the organisers increased our gap to two minutes. The roads were really fast, but we enjoyed them and it was great to see so many spectators out there.”

Rally Ciudad de Pozoblanco was based in the town of Pozoblanco, in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. The eight-stage rally was the penultimate round of the Spanish Super Rally Championship, Raftery and McKillop were the only Irish competitors on the entry list that included drivers from Andora, Finland, and a host of locals.

Rally Citta Di Schio

Meanwhile, in Italy, Rally Academy co-driver Lorcan Moore and his driver Casey Jay Coleman had overcome driveshaft issues to get to the finish of Rally Citta Di Schio.

It was their second Italian rally outing in a week having contested the previous weekend’s Rally del Brunello.

Driving a Peugeot 208 Rally4, the Irish team gave a good account of themselves until a broken driveshaft forced them into survival mode.

“The Rally Citta Di Schio was very cool, presenting challenges reminiscent of Monte Carlo with its twisting mountain passes. Our preparation included intensive training to implement a new driving style, a commendable effort given the rally's unique demands. Casey Jay's solid performance in the ultra-competitive Rally4 class, featuring 20 skilled contenders, positioned us well within the mid-pack" Moore explained.

“Unfortunately, on SS3, a broken driveshaft from a heavy landing forced us to navigate most of the stage and return to service with only one-wheel drive. Thanks to the team we got back out for the second loop, adapting and learning from every twist and turn. While our hopes for a commendable result were dashed, we left Italy with a valuable bank of knowledge which was the #1 aim, and unforgettable experiences from the past two rallies."

“Thanks to James Coleman and Casey Jay at Suirway Motorsport and the Rallysport Evolution team for their crucial roles in making it happen. A special thanks to Marco our team coordinator, who was a great assistance especially considering the language barrier. And a big thanks to the Rally Academy for keeping us fit and sharp during the two weeks.”

Text By Sean Moriarty



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