Real world or virtual reality, Rhys Yates can’t stop winning.
The Chesterfield rally star dominated last week’s high-profile Goodwood SpeedWeek Super Special, winning seven out of seven stages aboard his Ford Fiesta Rally2 MkII.
Early in lockdown, Rhys won two World Rally Championship eSports events. Getting back into the real world, he drove his Fiesta to an assured Rally2 victory at the M-Sport Back to Rally Stages in August and now he’s won two of the motorsport world’s highest profile events at the famed Goodwood event.
Not content with one victory at the prestigious West Sussex event, he did the double and gave a similarly dominant performance at the drifting gymkhana-style event which followed.
Rhys’ Fiesta was the only car competing in both disciplines and the car’s eye-catching split livery reflected that two-pronged attack on the SpeedWeek silverware.
Being a rally driver at heart, it was the Thursday-Friday special stage action which really had Rhys and his co-driving brother James fired up. They didn’t disappoint. They won every stage, showing their rivals the way home to clinch a 19.6-second victory.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Rhys. “I’d never been to Goodwood before, not for the Festival [of Speed] or the Revival or anything, but I’d certainly come back. It’s been an absolute blast.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, I knew they would be short and quite tight stages and I knew the competition would be close. So to come away with seven stage wins from seven and another good victory, I’m really happy with that.
“The stages were tricky, but once we’d had one run I knew what they were about and James could just sit there and enjoy the ride. I have to say a big thanks and very well done to Rick [Smith] and his team at the Southern Car Club for running such a mega event.”
With the rally won, the darker side of the Fiesta came to the fore in preparation for the drift event.
Rhys added: “We ran the grey livery when we competed at Gymkhana GRiD in Warsaw last year and I was really pleased we could incorporate that again this time.
“These Gymkhana events are always great fun – what’s not to love about drifting a rally car, smokin’ some Michelin tyres and doing some big skids. It’s been mega and to come away with a four-wheel drive win was the icing on the cake. Actually the icing on the cake was all the champagne we won! I’m not much of a connoisseur of champagne, but this looks like the good stuff!
“Like I said, I’m really pleased we came. Winning is great, but the chance to come and support these events which are being run under pretty difficult circumstances is very important. To get some profile and a bit of exposure at a place like this is also massive for me.”
Goodwood’s SpeedWeek was run behind closed doors, streamed live on Goodwood.com and screened on ITV4. The four-day event was a blend of Goodwood’s famous Members’ Meeting, the Festival of Speed and the Revival.