3 February 2015

From Galway to Latvia: Two Irish Drivers - Two different challenges

Craig Breen in action
Fresh from his second place finish at WRC Rallye Monte Carlo, Peugeot Rally Academy driver Craig Breen heads back to the European Rally Championship this week for round two “Rally Liepāja” (6-8 February) in Latvia.

Having twice previously finished on the second step of the podium at this event, it’s going to be a great opportunity for Craig and his co-driver Scott Martin to notch up their second ERC win for both themselves and the Peugeot 208 T16.

Not alone will it be Craig’s third time to compete in Latvia it will be the team’s third winter rally already this year so confidence all round is high ahead of the event.

Before leaving Craig said, “I’m really looking forward to the rally this year, with the confidence our second place in Monte Carlo has given me and our experience at this venue, we are determined to take a another win.”

Dean Raftery
Meanwhile back home, 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 6th, 7th and 8th February. After the ceremonial start on Friday 6th, two full days of action lie ahead for the crews before returning to the finish ramp at the Clayton Hotel late on Sunday afternoon.