Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) star Dean Raftery endured a tough return to competitive action last weekend as he retired from the Cambrian Rally in North Wales. The Billy Coleman Award winner returned to the wheel of his Citroen DS3R3 MAX in a bid to gain some valuable seat time ahead of the final round of the World Rally Championship in November, Wales Rally GB. But the 23 year old Galway man misheard a pace note on the third stage of the event forcing him into retirement after getting stuck for over 7 minutes in a ditch.
With limited outings in the JWRC this year Raftery has recently announced his intentions to return to the series and looked to the Cambrian Rally for experience of the tough North Wales stages. Raftery would be pitched against some similar machinery in the B11 class of the event and headed across the Irish Sea in a bid to obtain valuable set up data for November's showdown.
Enlisting the help of Newcastle co-driver Jack Morton, Raftery's frustrations began from the very first stage, stalling the Citroen DS3R3 on the opening test leaving the Motorsport Ireland and the Irish Sport Council backed pilot down in fourth. His bad luck continued in SS2 when a spin on the slippery Elsi stage lost the duo several seconds, although the time was still good enough to place them second in class.
But on the third stage Raftery misheard a pace note causing a rear impact with a bale and forcing the Citroen into a ditch where it became stuck fast. Loosing over seven minutes in the soft mud meant retirement loomed and Raftery withdrew the Citroen at the end of the test.
"It's been a frustrating day and I'm really disappointed with myself for the error which put us off" said Raftery. "It took a while to get into a comfortable rhythm and I do have to remember I've only driven the car for a few km's on gravel in Portugal which is widely different to North Wales, but nevertheless they were silly mistakes today that I need to iron out for Wales Rally GB."
Raftery was quick to praise co-driver Morton too. "Jack was great today and it was certainly my fault we went off. Despite the spin on SS2 we set a good time so the potential is there, I just need to bring it all together next month. I think we managed to collect enough data for a base set up for Wales and that was the idea after all. It's going to be a tough event but it's a chance to really show what I can do in R3."
Raftery is supported by Bluebird Care, Midland Tyres, Kenny Galway, Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council. For more information on Dean, updates from the event and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com
Raftery prepares for Wales Rally GB with Cambrian outing
Posted: October 14, 2015 6:21 AM
Billy Coleman Award winner Dean Raftery will return to the wheel of his Citroen DS3R3 MAX this weekend as he tackles the final round of the BTRDA Rally series, The Cambrian Rally on Saturday 17th October. After registering for this year's FIA Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC), the 23 year old Galway man will compete on the Llandudno based forestry event in a bid to gain valuable seat time ahead of his next World Rally Championship outing at Wales Rally GB in November.
The talented youngster has been frustrated by his 2015 season after two successful years in the British Rally Championship. His recent achievements were recognised by the Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year panel who awarded him the prestigious award and thanks to the award from the Motorsport Ireland and the Irish Sport Council, Raftery was able to secure a deal tackle the World Championship series with fellow Irishman and experienced co-driver John Higgins alongside. The duo completed just a handful of miles on their last outing in the DS3 R3MAX at Rallye Portugal thanks to a mysterious engine issue but with the problem now fixed by Citroen Racing in France, Raftery is keen to gain more experience of the Citroen before returning to the JWRC in just over a month's time.
Raftery is looking forward to returning to the JWRC and the rally this weekend and will be joined by experienced Newcastle based co-driver, Jack Morton. "It feels like a long time since I've been behind the wheel of the DS3" he explains. "The Cambrian Rally seemed like the obvious choice of event to use to acclimatise to the car once again. I've only completed a handful of miles on gravel in the car so jumping straight back into the JWRC would not be ideal."
There is also a serious side to Raftery's outing in the 1600cc turbocharged machine. "It's a short event at only 40 stage miles but its local to Wales Rally GB so it should provide a good opportunity to establish data which is valuable when you're still pretty green in the car" he says. "I've only ever driven the car on gravel in Portugal so it will be good a test for me and the car this weekend. I'd like to preserve the car of course and it will be interesting to compare our times against the other DS3MAX cars in the category"
Raftery is supported by Bluebird Care, Midland Tyres, Kenny Galway, Motorsport Ireland and The Irish Sports Council.
For more information on Dean, updates from the event and his rallying career, visit www.deanraftery.com