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Raftery proves his pace in Galway with successful MINI WRC result 

Proving that his driving skills are not just limited to a front wheel drive rally car, Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year Dean Raftery guided his MINI WRC to a fantastic sixth overall at last weekend’s Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally. In his first ever outing in a world rally car, the 23 year old from Co. Galway made a mature drive way beyond his years to round off the top six after a time zapping penalty meant he dropped to 18th at one point during the opening day.

Backed by event sponsor Colm Quinn BMW, Raftery enlisted the help of co-driver Mark Kane for his inaugural four-wheel drive event and immediately hit the ground running with a top 10 time on the opening stage of the rally. Just a handful of seconds behind MINI team mate and five times Irish Champion Eugene Donnelly, Raftery showed he got to grips with the MINI straight away, showing as fastest through the opener at the mid stage split. But the MINI dropped onto limp home mode as a water pipe came loose in the stage and he dropped over two minutes trying to rectify the issue, incurring a chunk of time penalties prior to the second stage.

Back at service, the McGeehan Motorsport run MINI was soon righted again and Raftery set about clawing some time back in the tricky conditions. Heading into the overnight halt, Raftery had driven with an outstanding turn of pace, making it back to the Gort service area in sixth overall.  “It was a real shame we had the penalties this morning but tried not to dwell on it too much during the rest of the day” explained Raftery.  “Of course, the MINI took a lot of getting used to and we didn’t test the car prior to the event due to the snow so every stage is a learning curve. It’s good to compare our times with Eugene (Donnelly) to see how we are doing”.

Sunday emerged with a thick blanket of fog over the region and would provide an added challenge for the youngster. A small trip into a field on the morning’s opener didn’t help matters but Raftery soon settled down as he continued to learn the car.  The number six seed would issue a wakeup call to the men in front as he set a ground breaking second fastest time overall on stage 11, showing the pace was no fluke. A string of top 5 times followed and the Craughwell talent took a sensible approach to the remainder of the rally, crossing the event finish ramp in a fine sixth overall.

“It has certainly been a fantastic experience and the MINI WRC is an amazing car to drive” he said. “Hopefully this proves that my skills are not just limited to front wheel drive and I’m pleased how I adapted to the car throughout the rally.  I have to say a huge thanks to Motorsport Ireland, the Irish Motorsports Council, McGeehan Motorsport and all my sponsors for making this happen. I really hope we can do it again this year but now my attentions turn to furthering my career and the season ahead.”

Raftery is supported by Bluebird Care, Colm Quinn BMW, Modern Tyre Service, EARS Motorsport, Kumho, King Car Parts, Quinns Hardware Labane, VP Racing Fuels, Mike Kelly Commercials and Raftery’s Bar. For more information on Dean, updates from the event and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com

Raftery Becomes Multiple British Rally Champion in Manx Drama

23 year old Dean Raftery recovered from an early event roll in his Bluebird Care backed Fiesta R2 to be crowned MSA British Rally Championship RallyTwo winner on last weekend’s Rally Isle of Man.  Due to the hard work by his team, Raftery and co-driver Aileen Kelly were able to restart the event after their leg one dramas and return to the TT Grandstand in Douglas on Saturday evening as champions.  Not only did they secure the hard fought RallyTwo title, but they also became class BRC2, FiestaSport Trophy and RAVENOL Oils Newcomers champions whilst finishing the championship in third place overall.

Add to the list a Pirelli Star Driver nomination for all their efforts this year and Raftery is undoubtedly one to watch for the future.

The Galway rally star thought his rally was over on just the opening leg of the three day long marathon event when he rolled his Fiesta on only the second stage of the rally. A distraught Raftery was recovered back to the service area later that night where his team set about repairing the damage inflicted by his trip into one of the Manx hedges.  “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing as we turned the car upside down” he said. “I knew all I had to do was get to the end of the event but we were just caught out and I really thought that was my championship over. The entire team pulled together and attempted to get us back in the rally; they were amazing, I really can’t thank them enough for all their efforts”.

Thanks to the Super Rally rules and the fact the long event was split into two points scoring opportunities for British Rally Championship contenders, Raftery was able to restart the event on Friday evening and immediately put the past days dramas behind him to make his mark on the stage times.  Tackling the stages under the cover of darkness, he began to rebuild his confidence on the tricky Manx roads to record some impressive times over the remainder of the day’s stages.

Saturday allowed Raftery to begin the day with a clean sheet and was rarely out of the top 10 all day long, confirming perhaps that it really was a simple mistake that caused his early event dramas on Thursday.  Crossing the finish line of the finish of the final stage of the event in front of the famous TT Grandstand, Raftery and Kelly were crowned champions and could take the silverware back to Ireland.
“It really is a dream come true for me to take the RallyTwo win after a season of ups and downs for us” explains Raftery. “We have proved that we have the pace to compete at the front and the consistency has helped us this year.  It’s great to become a multiple champion at only 23 years old and hopefully this will be a stepping stone for me and help further my rallying career.”

Raftery will also receive a free entry to the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB which takes place in November thanks to the MSA British Rally Championship “Road to Wales” initiative and his third overall in the series. Competing against the best drivers in the world will certainly be the one of the toughest tests in his short career so far.

His Pirelli Star Driver nomination for his performance during the year will offer Raftery product support from the tyre manufacturer in 2015 during his motorsport activities and is perhaps the icing on the cake for the likeable youngster. “I really can’t believe the results and titles we have gained this year” he says.  “I’ve always looked to progress my career as far as I can and the Wales Rally GB prize will undoubtedly be the next challenge in that plan. I’m looking forward to seeing what next year holds for us and what opportunities await.  I have to say a huge thank you to Aileen, the team and my all of my sponsors for their continued support; I could not have achieved any of this without them.”

Raftery is sponsored by the nationwide home and care service provider Bluebird Care has continued support from Craughwell Tyre Services, King Car Parts and Black Hawk Fuels.

For more information on Dean and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com