Career best finish for Galway rally driver in Hungary

Aoife Raftery in action at the European Rally Championship in Hungary.

Aoife Raftery in action at the European Rally Championship in Hungary.

Aoife Raftery has achieved her best performance in an FIA European Rally Championship event by finishing fourth overall. This is three places better than previously, when she finished seventh in the Czech Republic last season.

Now in her second season in the Junior ERC competition, the Craughwell-based driver and her Antrim co-driver Hannah McKillop finished a sensational fourth overall. This came about in the Junior element of the opening round of the 2024 European Rally Championship.

The driver completed six demanding loose surface stages near the town of Veszprem on Saturday.

Sunday was no different, when the course threw everything at the two Irish women, including a front-right puncture, which in turn damaged both the power steering and the car’s cooling.

Her team of mechanics worked miracles to have all the offending parts either repaired or replaced within the allocated 15-minute service time.

She then started the final stage in third place, but was perilously close to her teammate Jack Brennan, just 18 seconds separated the two Irish drivers with three rough and challenging stages left to run.

Also in the mix was Swedish driver Mille Johnason, who leapfrogged both Irish drivers to snare third place on the final test.

In the end, the Galway driver was just 6.1 seconds off her maiden podium finish.

Raftery said: “It's great to be at the end of Rally Hungary. There were some fantastic stages, a huge thanks to everybody who helped me get here.

“I would have taken fourth (out of 17 starters ) on Friday, we were very close to third and hopefully we can see that again this year. Thanks to Hannah who did an incredible job and to all at the Rally Academy for their help.”

The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy gives some of the country’s brightest talents the opportunity to develop skills and take their career to the next level.

Raftery is the first, and so far, only, female driver to be selected by the Rally Academy since its inception in 2020.

Outside of the ERC, she has recorded an impressive tally of international rally experience and results in Britain, Spain, Italy and San Marino over the last two years.

 

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