Continental rally debut for Raftery in San Marino

Galway’s Aoife Raftery will make her debut outside the UK and Ireland on this weekend’s San Marino Rally.

The 21-year-old, who only started rallying 12 months ago, is focused on gaining more experience and sampling a different type of event.

“There will be a three-pass recce which was a huge factor that attracted us to this event,” Raftery told Rally Insight. “It is a gravel event and will be a lot different to those in Ireland.

“It’s something new, we want to get experience outside of Ireland, and it gives me a chance to learn on different road conditions.”

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Raftery has competed on eight rallies already this year, two of which have been on gravel but all have been in Ireland. She travels to San Marino on the back of a Class 2 podium 2 on last Saturday’s Moonraker Forestry Rally.

“I am very excited,” continued Raftery. “There are a few nerves too but that’s all part of it. I can’t wait to get out there.

“We have done a lot of preparation, especially with the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy so we will go out and do our best and we will see how we get on.

“Obviously it’s very important for us to get a finish to gain experience and seat-time.”

Geraldine McBride will partner Raftery on the nine-stage, 74-kilometre San Marino Rally which marks its 50th running this year.

Raftery switches from her usual Ford Fiesta to a Peugeot 208 R2 for the third round of Italy’s gravel championship.

San Marino Rally takes place on Saturday 9th July, one day shy of a year since Raftery completed her first rally – last year’s Nicky Grist Stages.

Fellow MI Rally Academy driver, Eamonn Kelly will take part in this year’s Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday. Kelly leads the Junior British Rally Championship after finishing second and first in the front-wheel-drive category on BRC’s opening two rounds.

Elsewhere, Josh McErlean and James Fulton tackle Lithuania’s Rally Zemaitija. The two-day rally covers over 100 competitive kilometres of gravel – perfect preparation for their next World Rally Championship outing, Rally Estonia.

Photos by BRC and RedPoint Portugal