Chesterfield rally driver Rhys Yates will embark on the biggest season of his career in 2019 as he steps up to the FIA World Rally Championship to tackle nine rounds of the WRC2 category in his Brettex supported Skoda Fabia R5.
After tackling three seasons of the British Rally Championship with sporadic outings in Europe, Yates will now start a campaign at the pinnacle of the sport, starting with the legendary Rallye Monte Carlo at the end of January (24th – 27th January 2019 ).
The 26-year-old driver is one of the most progressive in the UK and despite only switching from two wheels to four in 2013, has seen success in each level he has competed in. Starting in a basic Suzuki Swift, Yates then found his feet in a Ford Fiesta R2 before moving into four-wheel-drive machinery and the British Rally Championship.
The acquisition of his Skoda Fabia R5 in January 2018 saw him secure his first overseas victory in Belgium at Rally van Wervik, the first British driver to do so in the event’s history. A handful of outings in the FIA European Rally Championship further honed his skills outside of the UK, setting a string of top-times during the season.
This season will see Yates contest some of the toughest events in the world, competing against some of the quickest drivers in the business, all aiming to prove themselves in the WRC2 title chase. The series is the feeder level to the full WRC Championship and is well known for its ability to provide future world champions.
Despite the late decision to move onto the world stage, Yates believes he is ready for the challenge ahead.
“There is no question that this will be toughest ever season of my career but as a driver, I feel I am ready to prove that I have what it takes to compete at this level,” says Yates.
“We have secured a fantastic team to support our journey as well. Nick Navas will join us as Engineer, ensuring we get the data and set up information right from the off. Denis Giraudet will co-drive in Monte Carlo and his experience is unrivalled on the event which will be a huge asset. James Morgan will then join me from Sweden and we work well together too. It looks very positive this season”.
Yates will contest the formidable Rally Monte Carlo in just two weeks time which forms the first round of the WRC2 season and is the only English driver on the entry list. On offer this year are events in Spain, Portugal, Finland and Germany, many of which will be uncharted territory for the Derbyshire ace.
“This year will be mega” he continues.
“There will be so much to learn in such a short space of time but sometimes you just have to get stuck in and experience it all. We have something like four days at home between Monte (Carlo Rally) and Rally Sweden so it will be non-stop for us, but it will certainly keep everything fresh in my mind from one event to the next”.
New for 2019, the WRC2 category has been split into two with the “Pro” series separated from privateer entries. Yates has ambitions to make it onto the podium in his inaugural full season.
“It was extremely tough to compete with the factory teams in WRC last season as their testing budget and infrastructure for one event was probably more than ours for the entire year. The new WRC2 has made it a much more realistic proposition this season and we will be aiming to be on the podium if we can. It’s going to be tough, the WRC is a hard as it gets but I`m as ready as I`ll ever be for whatever the year throws at me and I can’t wait to get going”.