Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year Dean Raftery will take on the biggest challenge of his career as he steps up from his usual Ford Fiesta R2, to a BMW MINI World Rally Car on the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally. Receiving the support of rally sponsor Colm Quinn BMW, Raftery will compete in one of two MINI WRCs on the event, the sister car piloted by five times Irish Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly.
At the age of just 23, the Craughwell based rally star will aim to capitalise on his sensational performances in the MSA British Rally Championship and World Rally Championship finale Wales Rally GB. He has been offered this opportunity thanks to his victory in the Young Driver of the Year competition hosted by Motorsport Ireland and the Irish Sport Council which took place back in Decemeber. Keen to develop his skills across a wide variety of competitive cars, Raftery feels that the experience in a world car is ‘key’ to his progression in the sport and will help to boost his profile as he continues his career.
“This is such a fantastic opportunity on my home event in front of my home crowd, it truly is a dream come true” explains Raftery. “It really is an honour to drive for event sponsor Colm Quinn BMW on and event that my local motor club organises and what an incredible car to compete in. Of course it will be a totally unique driving experience compared to the Fiesta but hopefully I can adapt to the power and grip levels quite quickly. McGeehan Motorsport is running the car and we should be able to fit a test in before the event so I can get a feel for the car”.
Having a five time Irish Champion as a team mate will undoubtedly help the Galway Motor Club member too. “Of course Eugene is a legend on the Irish roads and I’m sure I can learn a lot from him both before and during the event” he says. “It will provide a great benchmark to judge my stage times by too but I will certainly be driving my own event, at least for the first few stages”.
Raftery will once again be supported by his regular backers including Bluebird Care, Modern Tyre Service, EARS Motorsport, Kumho, King Car Parts, Quinns Hardware Labane, Mike Kelly Commercials and Raftery’s Bar. He will start the event as number 6 seed and will be co-driven by Mark Kane.
The three day event provides over 200km of competitive stages in the Galway region and takes place on 6th, 7th and 8th February. After the ceremonial start on Friday 6th, two full days of action lie ahead for the crews before returning to the finish ramp at the Clayton Hotel late on Sunday afternoon.
For more information on Dean, updates from the event and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com