Billy Coleman Award winner Dean Raftery will return to the wheel of his Citroen DS3R3 MAX this week as he tackles the final round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB (12-15 November). After registering for this year’s FIA Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC), the 23 year old Galway man will contest season finale’ in a bid to secure a decent result in the series after just one outing at Rallye Portugal.
After a successful season in the British Rally Championship in 2014 and an impressive one-off outing in a MINI WRC at the Galway Rally, Raftery has endured a tough remainder of the season. Despite missing the opening round of the JWRC whilst a deal was secured to contest the series, Raftery was buoyed by a confidence boosting first test of the newly acquired DS3R3 MAX at Rallye Portugal. Sadly the event itself lasted just a few miles after retiring with engine issues but Raftery is keen to make an impression during the three day gravel event of Wales Rally GB, often marked as one of the toughest in the 13 event World Rally Championship.
Joined by co-driver and 2014 British Rally Champion Arthur Kierans, Raftery is once again backed by the Motorsport Ireland and Irish Sport Council and has set his sights high on achieving a notable result in the Welsh forests.
“We have had a tough year and having only one JWRC outing was certainly not how I expected to spend the season, but I’m indebted to my sponsors who have stuck by me and enabled me to contest the final round this week” says Raftery. “I do feel like I have a lot to prove but it will certainly be a challenge. The other crews havespent all year in the car but I’ve completed less than 100km behind the wheel of the DS3 so it’s going to be a steep learning curve”.
Keen to sample the characteristics of the North Wales forests, Raftery headed to Llandudno in October to contest the Cambrian Rally.
“Doing the Cambrian was important to gain a decent set up for the car so we can at least have some base settings to work from” he says. “Whilst we only managed a few stages, it should mean we start the event with a fairly consistent car under me. It’s thanks to the valuable support of our sponsors such as Bluebird Care, Midland Tyres, Kenny Galway, Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council that I have the opportunity to really show what I’m capable of on the world stage.”
The November 12-15 event is based near Chester and provides over 310km of special stages across Wales. After a ceremonial start on Thursday 12th, the action kicks off with six mid Wales stages on Friday. Saturday is the longest day, providing just under half of the stage mileage including the spectator stage at Chirk Castle. Sunday 15th has just four stages, culminating in the live for TV power stage, Brenig.
For more information on Dean, updates from the event and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com