6 November 2023
~3 minutes read
Aoife Raftery impresses on rallycross debut at Lydden Hill
Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy member Aoife Raftery made an impressive British Rallycross debut at Lydden Hill over the weekend.
The Galway woman was invited to race in the 2023 finale of the RX150 category that runs within the British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill after meeting the event’s promoters at a motorsport-themed charity event in Cork in September.
Raftery has been rallying for just over two years but the chance to compete in a new and very different discipline was too good to pass up.
The first female to be selected to join the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy added a new string to her bow by racing the regular RX150 contenders in the final weekend of the season of the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship.
The RX150 Rallycross Championship delivers some of the fastest and most competitive racing in the 5 Nations BRX package, the single-seater, single-specification RX150 machines weigh 430 kilograms, are powered by 200bhp 1000cc motorcycle engines, and are driven through the rear wheels by six-speed sequential gearboxes, ensuring tight and exciting racing,
Raftery has spent 2023 competing in the FIA European Rally Championship at the wheel of a Peugeot 208 Rally4. She has also driven various specification Ford Fiestas in Irish and British rallies but her RX150 debut was her first time driving a rear-wheel drive machine in any competition.
Having never seen an RX150 buggy in the flesh until Friday afternoon and only driving one for the first time on Saturday, the 22-year-old adapted quickly to her new surroundings.
Despite torrential rain and extremely muddy conditions on Saturday she consistently set top-four times in all her heats, with only drivers like former RX 150 title-holders Stephen Jones and Ben Hardy and multiple event-winner and newly crowned champion Nick Priddy finishing ahead of her.
Sunday’s improved weather conditions allowed her to get stuck into battles with the championship regulars.
The Galway Motor Club member duly qualified for the day’s final where she finished a creditable fifth overall despite her lack of wheel-to-wheel racing knowledge.
The Craughwell native said the experience will stand to her, the tricky conditions helped her expand her car control skills, but the chance to compete in a category completely alien to her past background in motorsport was valuable learning too.
“Just completed my first rallycross and I enjoyed every minute of it. The RX150 buggies are brilliant to drive, and fantastic for working on driving skills,” she said.
“It was a completely new discipline for me where I now had to consider what the others were doing around me as we were racing side-by-side and also driving rear-wheel-drive was new. It was great to bring the knowledge I had from rallying and apply it here.”
The two-day event meant she also had the chance to promote the work of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy in front of a new audience.
“The opportunity to represent the Rally Academy at this event was especially important and I got to meet lots of great people involved in this new-for-me form of motorsport. Thanks to all the team at RX Racing for making it happen,” she added.
Aoife Raftery Rallying is supported by O’Neill O’Malley Architects and Project Managers / Loughrea Auto Parts Ltd / Craughwell Tyre Centre / Sean Fleming Motors / Aertec Vacuum and Ventilation / Des Lyons Plant / Quinn’s Hardware