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Norwegian rally legend John Haugland mentors Aoife Raftery

When Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Aoife Raftery starts next weekend’s Delfi Rally Estonia, she will be calling on advice and knowledge shared with her by Norwegian rally legend John Haugland.

Raftery is contesting the Junior FIA European Rally Championship for the second time this season and currently sits fifth in the championship standings following strong results in Hungary, The Canary Islands and Sweden.

The Craughwell, County Galway, native is preparing for Rally Estonia, the fourth round of the Junior FIA European Rally Championship which runs from July 5 to 7. Rally Estonia is the second of two fast gravel Nordic rallies that make up the summer schedule for Junior ERC runners. Similar to the terrain of the BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia in mid-June, the newest addition to the FIA European Rally Championship will require a particular driving style.

Aoife Raftery and John Haugland at the Deja Vu Motorsport event in September 2023

Last month Haugland and his wife Julie attended the Karlstad-based Royal Rally of Scandinavia in Sweden. Haugland, with over 50 years of rally experience, was on hand to offer advice and mentoring to Raftery and her co-driver Hannah McKillop throughout the three-day competition.

Haugland, a six-time ERC event winner was able to give driving and car set-up advice after spending time discussing each day’s activities with Raftery. It is this advice that the only female driver in the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy will bring to Estonia.

Aoife Raftery and John Haugland with Phillip Case of PCRS Rallysport review on-board data during the BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia, June 2024

“It was a great honour to have John Haugland and his wife Julie support me in Sweden. John is a fantastic help and he advised me in the right direction with driving on the fast and technical Swedish stages,” she said.

Haugland, who spent nearly his entire rally career as a works driver for Skoda Motorsport, also studied Raftery’s on-board footage from the Swedish event. He even drove one stage on Raftery’s notes and after casting his experienced eyes over them made additional notations to help her in future recces.

A few days after the rally Raftery and McKillop revisited the test with Haugland’s notes to further enhance their learning experience gleaned from the Norwegian ace.

“It is great for me to work with such a highly regarded rally driver of his experience and talent,” added Raftery who drives a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Peugeot 208 Rally4 in the pan-European competition.

The Hauglands and Raftery became friends after she attended his famous Winter Rally School in Geilio, Norway.

“After spending the last few Christmases at their popular Winter Rally School, driving on snow and ice we have built a good relationship together,” she said.

Aoife Raftery with John and Julie Haugland during the BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia, June 2024

“John has been eager to work with me and help me to succeed after he sat in the passenger seat at his rally school with me and after a few days of us working together [in Geilio].”

“The opportunity to attend John and Julie’s Rally School has been one of my best experiences for driving and improving car control. With the help of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and ongoing support, it has proved that Hannah and I improve our pace on every rally."

Raftery and Haugland have also worked together on charity events outside of competition.

Last September, John and Julie Haugland drove Andrew Fanning’s ‘Craig Breen Quotes’ liveried Skoda Fabia on Déjà Vu Motorsport Cork where Raftery and other team members were on hand to offer on-event support. That event  raised vital funds for the CRITICAL emergency medical response charity in County Cork.

Aoife Raftery is supported by Des Lyons Plant | Kenny (Peugeot) Galway | O’Neill O’Malley Architects and Project Managers | Loughrea Auto Parts | Craughwell Tyre Centre | Sean Fleming Motors | Quinn Hardware | Kerry Motorsport News

Text By Sean Moriarty



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