Wed 17 May 2023

Proud moment time as Raftery follows in Rosemary Smith’s ERC wheel tracks

Aoife Raftery said the opportunity to follow in the wheel tracks of trailblazing rally driver Rosemary Smith represents a “proud moment”.

The 22-year-old is about to embark on her first season in the Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC Championship driving a Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy-backed Peugeot 208 Rally4.

By competing in the ERC, Raftery will contest a championship in which Smith was an overall winner in the 1960s.

“It is a proud moment for me and also for my family and for everyone in Ireland,” said Raftery. “Rosemary is known around the world and it’s great I can follow in those footsteps and hopefully be as successful as she was one day.”

Raftery makes her ERC debut a little more than one month since the passing of Craig Breen, another one of her Irish motorsport heroes and a five-time winner in the championship.

“It’s really nice that after the passing of Craig I can do a small bit to represent Ireland on the international level and wave the Irish flag, it’s really nice to be able to do that in memory of Craig,” said Raftery, who is from Galway on the west coast of Ireland.

Raftery is one of 16 drivers contesting the Hankook-supported Junior ERC series this season. Claire Williams from Wales will co-drive.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” the PCRS Rallysport-run driver said. “I’ve decided to do the championship because the level of competition and the experience and what I’m going to learn from it. I’m especially looking forward to working with the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy. We are here to learn this year, it’s a big step up for us but we’re looking forward to the challenge and we’re going to make the most of it.”

She continued: “I’ve done gravel rallies and Tarmac rallies at home but of course the gravel rallies I’ve done don’t compare to Poland [due to the speed] but I’m sure every country I will go to there will be different conditions.

“It’s a good opportunity to learn and build my experience, especially in Poland where it’s so fast and, as we’ve seen today in the test, it can get very rutted, which is not something I would have seen before but it’s good to see it and we’re ready for it.”

Photo: Motorsport Ireland

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