3 April 2024

~3 minutes read

Aoife Raftery to compete in FIA Junior European Rally Championship again this year

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Aoife Raftery to compete in FIA Junior European Rally Championship again this year

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy driver Aoife Raftery will return to the FIA Junior European Rally Championship this year. The Craughwell-based driver was regularly at the sharp end of last year’s European Championship where she blazed a trail for Irish women in motorsport. Following in the wheel tracks of one of her motor racing idols, the late Rosemary Smith, Raftery recorded impressive results in the Czech Republic and Italy last year. Raftery is the first, and so far, only, female driver to be selected by the Rally Academy since its inception in 2020.

“I am delighted to announce that we will be competing in the European Rally Championship again this year,” she said. “It is a fantastic opportunity and a massive thank you to everyone behind me, the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, and my sponsors for making this happen. It is going to be a really exciting year.”

However, only one rally, the BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia in Sweden carries over from her 2023 itinerary. Instead, Raftery will visit a host of new countries including next week’s Hungarian event and the Canary Islands this season.

“We aim to bring everything that we learned in 2023 into this season and keep improving from last year. There is only one event that carries into this year – Sweden. I think that is going to be really exciting and a good thing that all drivers will be starting off on a clean sheet in the juniors.”

Raftery regularly featured amongst the top female drivers in last season’s European Rally Championship. In July she finished second to Italian championship frontrunner Rachele Somaschini in Coppa Femminile on the Rally di Roma Capitale. Somaschini was driving a far more powerful Citroen C3 Rally2 car compared to  Raftery’s Peugeot 208 Rally4. In August, Raftery was the top female driver in a two-wheel drive car on the Barum Rally Zlin in the Czech Republic after coming out on top in a rally-long battle with Hungarian Adrienn Vogel.

“Hopefully, we will see some more females registered in the championship this year. It would be great to see a few more, especially in the junior section. We will have to wait and find out but it would be great to see some more female drivers registered,” added the Craughwell native.

Outside of the ERC, she recorded an impressive tally of international rally experience and results in Britain, Spain, Italy and San Marino over the last two years. This year the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy will field a two-car team in the FIA European Rally Championship for the first time. Raftery will return for a second season at European-level and will be joined by Young Rally Driver of the Year Billy Coleman Award winner Jack Brennan from Kilkenny. The two Rally Academy members are entered in the April 12-14 Rally Hungary, the opening event in the six-round 2024 FIA Junior European Rally Championship. Both drivers will compete in a pair of Peugeot 208 Rally4 cars with on-event support provided by Spain-based Irish rally team PCRS Rallysport. Raftery will be co-driven by County Antrim’s Hannah McKillop in Hungary. Both Irish women previously worked together on two events in Spain last year where they were regularly among the Rally4 class frontrunners. V-Híd Rally Hungary will be based in Veszprém, 120km south of the capital Budapest.

Aoife Raftery Racing 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

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