Chesterfield rally driver Rhys Yates recorded a stunning performance in the star-studded Monza Rally Show last weekend (1-3 December), taking fourth place in the R5 category shootout and narrowly missing out on a podium spot at the famous Monza Race Track near Milan in Italy.
The British Rally Championship front-runner was asked to compete at the invite-only event which brought a host of stars from the World Rally Championship, World MotoCross and Moto GP to the three-day event. Yates was co-driven by five-time WRC event winner, Frenchman Denis Giraudet and the newly formed pairing would tackle the popular rally in the Brettex Ford Fiesta R5.
After a successful season in the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, the 24-year-old would head to the Italian event to compete alongside many of his childhood heroes including, Moto GP seven-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and nine-time World MotoCross Champion Antonio Cairoli.
Joining them, were WRC regulars Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville who would bring the Hyundai World Championship team to the venue.
Complete with a new, celebratory livery for the occasion, Yates eased his way into the unique event which incorporated the main Monza circuit and the many perimeter and service roads around the track. Just two stages made up Friday’s leg and Yates laid down his intentions and tackled the 9km tests comfortably to end the day 29th overall.
Saturday comprised of two focal stages of 45km and 33km, backed up with two shorter 9km tests. It would be here where Yates made his move, settling into the new surroundings to move up the leaderboard with every passing stage and completing the leg in 20th overall against many more experienced crews.
Another ultra-long test opened up Sunday and the unique venue played to Yates’ strengths, executing his way around the chicanes and artificially narrowed corners to take 18th overall and fifth in the R5 category.
His impressive result secured him a place in the Monza Masters Show shootout on Sunday afternoon in the Brettex Fiesta R5. A short 2.7km test would decide the winner and Yates was just six seconds shy of the eventual winner to take fourth spot and round off the weekend on a high.
“What an amazing experience and one that I really won’t forget in a hurry,” said Yates on Sunday.
“This really is stuff dreams are made of. As a youngster and being a GP and MotoCross rider, my idols were the likes of Rossi and Cairoli and here I am competing alongside them just a few places further down the order. The atmosphere here is mental and it’s like one big party, you can even hear the crowds cheering in the car. It’s been a huge honour to be part of it and I really can’t wait to come back again next year.”
Yates believes the event provides a great insight into rallying in Europe and offered valuable experience for the season ahead.
“Having Denis alongside me this weekend was fantastic, it’s great to be able to call on his experience even on an event like this. It has certainly opened my eyes to what is possible with both the car and myself so I`m looking forward to bringing all this into my plans for 2018.”
An announcement on his plans for next season will be revealed soon.
Yates is backed in 2017 by Michelin, Protyre, Kick Motorsport, Simpson, Zenith Racing, Prestone, Draper Tools, Jordan Road Surfacing and NGK Spark Plugs.
He also receives grateful support from a number of local businesses including H&F PES, Maun Motors, MFA, Calow Lane MOT Centre, The Mobility Shop, Glazebrook Transport, Woodleigh Motor Sales, Juice Motorsport and Clear Edge Filtration Group.
IMAGE: OLONIA CORSE