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A Mini Adventure for Raftery in Galway World Car Outing 

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

Bluebird Care Galway Support Dean Raftery in Rally Championship

Bluebird Care Galway are proudly supporting Galway man Dean Raftery in the Toddsleap Ulster Rally in Northern Ireland. Read the press release below on what Dean has to say about the upcoming race.

Raftery seeks repeat of last year’s winning ways in Ulster Rally showdown

MSA British Rally Championship contender Dean Raftery will head to Northern Ireland this weekend as he bids to keep his RallyTwo championship hopes alive and contests the Toddsleap Ulster Rally. The 23 year from Galway is currently second in the RallyTwo fights and leads the BRC2 class going into the fifth round of the series and will need to call on his previous experience of the challenging Fermanagh and South Tyrone roads if he is to move into the lead of the most hotly contested category in the championship.

The Irishman will certainly be hoping to repeat his success of last year where he won the BRC Challenge section of the event in his Honda Civic and with regular co-driver Aileen Kelly alongside once again, the duo are certainly favorites to take the category win. Using his new-for-2014 Ford Fiesta R2, it will be the first time Raftery has contested a British Championship event on asphalt in the car, being forced to skip the Jim Clark Rally earlier in the year, but is confident he has the measure of the nimble 1600cc machine. “I’m really looking forward to contesting the Ulster Rally again and hopefully we can be right on the pace from the very first stage” he says.   “We have proved this year that we can get some impressive results in the Fiesta so it will be interesting to see how our times compare with the other RallyTwo contenders”.

Ensuring he wasn’t at a disadvantage by missing out on valuable seat time on asphalt, the two-time Irish Junior Champion contested the ALMC Stages in July and duly returned back to Galway with a R2 win under his belt. His impressive outing going some way to make up for lost ground on his British Championship rivals.  “The ALMC result was an important victory this year” said Raftery.  “We used the event mostly to set the car up on asphalt and to find a comfortable pace, but we settled in much quicker than I thought we would and it was a great confidence booster.  I learnt so much about the car during that rally so I really need to put it all into practise now. It’s going to be a tough battle but we are ready for it”.

The Ulster Rally provides a fantastic backdrop for Raftery to showcase the Fiesta across Northern Ireland and has secured the backing of leading care home business, Bluebird Care. “I have to say a huge thank you to Bluebird Care for supporting me during the 2014 season. Hopefully we can look forward to some winning ways together” says Raftery.  Joining the nationwide home and care service provider is continued support from Craughwell Tyre Services, King Car Parts and Black Hawk Fuels.

The Toddsleap Ulster Rally is a two day event and provides competitors with over 120 miles of competitive stages around the rally base of Enniskillen. The action kicks off on Friday 15th August at around midday with around half of the event mileage ahead of the 140 crews taking part. The remaining 60 miles will be tackled during Saturday, before the finish ceremony in the town centre during the evening. For more information on Dean and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com