Dean Raftery will take the biggest leap of his short career as he enters this month's Vodafone Rallye de Portugal and the FIA Junior World Rally Championship.

The 21-24 May event is the second round of the 2015 JWRC and the 23-year old Galway native will drive a Citroen DS3 R3MAX built by C- Sport. Broderick Motorsport will join the Galway outfit to run the 1600cc turbocharged Citroen, which Raftery will campaign against some of the best young drivers in the world as he bids to win the prestigious JWRC prize drive offered by Citroen Racing.

Raftery has had several successful years behind the wheel and his progression through the sport has been a model that many young drivers aspire to. After two successful years competing in the
British Rally Championship, he received his first taste of WRC glory at last year's Wales Rally GB, when he drove his Fiesta R2 to a podium result. His recent achievements were recognised by the Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year award which, thanks to support from Motorsport Ireland and the Irish Sport Council, has allowed him to secure a deal to build a brand new Citroen DS3 R3MAX and tackle the World Championship series with fellow Irish co-driver John Higgins on the pacenotes.

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"It's all been rather hastily arranged, but this has been my goal ever since I first started competing, so it truly is a dream come true for me," an excited Raftery admitted, "We have been working really hard on this pretty much since last year's Wales Rally GB and, thanks to the Billy Coleman Award and my sponsors, I can take my career to the next level. This will be like nothing I've ever done before and it will be a steep learning curve on the first round. But I'm ready for a new challenge and entering the JWRC proves just that".

There won't be much time to prepare for the new challenge as Raftery will head to Portugal for the event recce in a just a few weeks, but he hopes to get his first taste of the DS3 before he leaves and cram in as much seat time as possible thereafter.

"We are on the back foot a little as many of the drivers already have years of experience in the DS3, but I'm confident of picking it up quickly," he insisted, "It's a wildly different car to the Fiesta that I'm used to, but my recent Galway outing in the MINI WRC has acclimatised me well to a quicker car. It won't be easy - there are lots of 'firsts' on the event - but I'm really looking forward to the rally."