May 03, 2015
Billy Coleman Award winner Dean Raftery will take the biggest leap of his short career as he enters this month’s Vodafone Rallye de Portugal and the FIA Junior World Rally Championship. The 21st – 24th May event is the second round of the JWRC championship and the 23 year old Galway man will drive a Citroen DS3 R3MAX built by C-Sport. Broderick Motorsport will join the Galway outfit to run the 1600cc turbocharged Citroen. Raftery will be up against some of the best young drivers in the world in a bid to win the prestigious JWRC prize drive offered by Citroen Racing.
The Galway talent has had several successful years behind the wheel and his progression through the sport has been a model that many young drivers aspire to. After two successful years competing in the British Rally Championship, Raftery received his first taste of WRC glory at last year’s Wales Rally GB when he drove his Fiesta R2 to a podium result. His recent achievements were recognised by the Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year panel who awarded him the prestigious award. Thanks to the award from the Motorsport Ireland and the Irish Sport Council, Raftery has been able to secure a deal to build a brand new Citroen DS3 R3MAX and tackle the World Championship series with fellow Irishman and experienced co-driver John Higgins alongside. Previous winners of the JWRC include nine times World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and current World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier.
“It’s all been rather hastily arranged but this has been my goal ever since I first started competing, it truly is a dream come true for me” says an excited Raftery. “We have been working really hard on this pretty much since last year’s Wales Rally GB and thanks to the Billy Coleman Award and my sponsors I can take my career to the next level. This will be like nothing I’ve ever done before and it will be a steep learning curve on the first round. But I’m ready for a new challenge and entering the JWRC proves just that”.
There won’t be much time to prepare for the new challenge as Raftery will head to Portugal for the event recce in a just a few weeks but he hopes to get his first taste of the DS3 before he leaves and cram in as much seat time as possible. “We are on the back foot a little as many of the drivers already have years of experience in the DS3 but I’m confident of picking it up quickly. It’s a wildly different car to the Fiesta that I’m used to but my recent Galway outing in the MINI WRC has acclimatised me well to a quicker car. It won’t be easy, there are lots of ‘firsts’ on the event but I’m really looking forward to the rally”
Raftery will once again be supported by Bluebird Care, Midland Tyres, Citroen main dealer – Kenny Galway, Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council.
The Portuguese event provides over 350km of competitive stages based in the North West coastal city of Porto. After the ceremonial start on Thursday 21st May a super special spectator stage will warm up the crews before three full days of action lie ahead, finishing on Sunday afternoon. For more information on Dean, updates from the event and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com
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