Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year Dean Raftery will take on the biggest challenge of his career as he steps up to a BMW MINI World Rally Car on the Colm Quinn BMW Galway International Rally.
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 December.
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 at an 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.”
Raftery will compete in one of two MINI WRCs on the event, the sister car piloted by five times Irish Tarmac Champion Eugene Donnelly.
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.”
The three-day event provides over 200km of competitive stages in the Galway region and takes place on February 6, 7, and 8. After the ceremonial start on Friday February 6, two full days of action lie ahead for the crews before returning to the finish ramp at the Clayton Hotel late on Sunday afternoon.