29 April 2024

~4 minutes read

Aoife Raftery set for Rally Islas Canarias debut – the rally that inspired her international motorsport career

Share story:
Aoife Raftery set for Rally Islas Canarias debut – the rally that inspired her international motorsport career

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Aoife Raftery will get the opportunity to compete in the event that inspired her to follow an international motorsport career for the first time this weekend.

Rally Islas Canarias, the second round of the FIA European Rally Championship is scheduled for May 2 to May 4.

The Craughwell-based driver is in her second year of Junior FIA European Rally Championship competition.

She made her motorsport debut in July 2021 and concentrated on Irish and British events for her first two seasons before venturing to Europe in 2023.

While always a motorsport fan she was never sure what direction to take until witnessing top-flight European rallying for the first when she attended Rally Islas Canarias as a spectator in November 2020.

Watching one of her all-time motorsport heroes, the late Craig Breen and soaking up the atmosphere of a European Championship event convinced Raftery that this was the career path she wanted to follow.

“I have very fond memories of Rally Islas Canarias. Back in 2020 when I came over to watch I remember being so impressed by the whole set-up of the ERC and the standard of rallying and I remember meeting with different drivers,” she said.

“I knew it was something I really wanted to give a shot at and it is where the beginning of the conversations started in terms of myself beginning to compete in the driver’s seat.”

Raftery arrives at Rally Islas Canarias on the back of her best performance to date at FIA European Rally Championship level.

Following a successful debut season in 2023 she returned to the Junior FIA European Rally Championship this season at the wheel of a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Peugeot 208 Rally4. Raftery put the experience gained last year to good use at Rally Hungary, the opening round of the 2024 campaign.

The first and so far, only female driver to be selected by the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy narrowly missed out on her maiden category podium by 6.1 seconds following a fine drive on the event’s challenging gravel stages.

It could so easily have been a third-place finish for Raftery had she not been forced to nurse her Peugeot 208 Rally4 through the final loop of stages after the car was damaged in a heavy impact on SS10.

“We had a great result in Hungary and we showed some great determination getting the car to the finish,” she added. “We did our best to hold on to third but unfortunately while trying to manage different issues after doing some damage we slipped to fourth. It was really great to see our improvements from last year and the plan is to continue working hard and try to see some results on the podium this year.”

Rally Islas Canarias is an all-tarmac closed road event, but Raftery feels more at home on gravel and loose surface events.

“I am looking forward to the fast and windy roads of the Canaries. It is very different to the roads we would have experience on, but we will do our best to make good notes, have a good pre-event test and feel confident going into it,” she said.

“I do enjoy the gravel [like Hungary] and it is quite a lot of fun and I like the feeling I get from it. We are in the Canaries to learn these style of [asphalt]

roads and hopefully see some good stage times over the weekend with a focus on improving on each stage.”

Raftery will be co-driven by County Antrim’s Hannah McKillop on Rally Islas Canarias.

The crew have worked together in the past, including the recent Rally Hungary and on national events in Spain where they were regularly competing amongst the Rally4 class front-runners.

Their result in Hungary means they arrive in the Canaries holding fourth place in the Junior FIA European Rally Championship.

The Irish crew are the third seeds in the Junior category and will also start as one of the favourites in the Ladies category where they will face drivers like Cristiana Oprea (Romania – Opel Corsa Rally4) and Ekaterina Stratieva (Bulgaria – Peugeot 208 Rally4)

The rally, which is based in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, begins with a short spectator stage on Thursday night ahead of two days of intense competition across a further 12 special stages.

After nearly 200 kms of competition, the event will draw to a close around 6 pm local time on Saturday.

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 | Liscon Transport | Kerry Motorsport News

Share story:

Galway Athletics Report

Sean Doggett selected for Europeans Athletics Ireland has announced a strong team for next month’s European Athletics Championships, which will be held ...

St. Patrick's Athletic vs Galway United (Premier Division Preview with John Caulfield)

Galway United will go 10 games unbeaten in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division this Friday (31st May 2024) if they avoid defeat to Stephen Kenny...

Galway GAA Fixtures

Under 13 Division 1 Fri, 31 May, Venue: Caherlistrane, (Round 6), Caherlistrane V Annaghdown 19:00, Fri, 31 May, Venue: Mountbellew, (Round 6), Mountbelle...

Croker Calling for Leading Contenders as 2024 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Championships are Launched

STARS from the competing counties gathered at Croke Park today (Tuesday May 28) to officially launch the 2024 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Championsh...