Chesterfield driver Rhys Yates will return to World Rally Championship (WRC) action at next week’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland – and the 27-year-old has been counting the minutes until this moment.
Rhys and his Rhys Yates Rallying (RYR) team were forced out of the last WRC round in Finland after an accident in Belgium caused too much damage to the ŠKODA. But now, he’s back.
“Missing Finland really hurt,” he said, “but it couldn’t be helped. All we could do was look forward and focus on what’s coming in Germany and I’m very, very excited about that.”
Based close to the French border in Germany’s south-west, ADAC Rallye Deutschland is one of the most technically demanding asphalt rallies on the calendar. The event has a bit of everything. There’s a day among the grapes, where high-sided vineyard roads rise up from the Mosel river, winding their way up the steep contours with shockingly fast straights punctuated by frustratingly slow hairpin bends. Best not look down here…
Then there are the country lanes, which are going to be the most familiar for Rhys and finally there’s the most feared of them all: Panzerplatte, which falls on Saturday (August 24).
“Panzerplatte and the Baumholder military range is where the American army goes to test its tanks,” explained Rhys. “We will drive on the Tarmac roads across the military range and, at the side of the road, there are these things called hinkelsteins. Basically, a hinkelstein is a piece of rock – in some places bigger than our ŠKODA – which is used to keep the tanks on the road!
“Now, I don’t know a lot about tanks, but I’m told some of these things can weigh more then 60 tonnes and travel at close to 40mph. Any bit of rock that can keep that on the straight and narrow is going to eat our rally car for breakfast. We’ll be giving the hinkelsteins a wide berth…”
Rhys arrives in Germany on the back of a fantastic start to his maiden WRC 2 campaign – especially on Tarmac. He managed a pair of top-five finishes on the Rallye Monte-Carlo and Tour de Corse earlier this year.
“Fourth [in WRC 2] on the Monte was just a brilliant start to the year and to my first WRC 2 season,” he said. “It was such a difficult rally, I didn’t know what to expect, but we kept our heads down and came home with an amazing result on one of the world’s most famous rallies.
“It was the same in Corsica: first time there, really tough event and we got the result. That’s what I want to do in Germany. It’s about learning for me this year. I’ve never done these rallies, every one is a step into the complete unknown. I’ve read so much and watched so many videos, to be out there driving on roads like that Panzerplatte stage is a dream come true. “But I have a job to do next week. I have to get to the finish, learn the rally and get ready for next year and that’s what we’re going to be doing.”
Date of birth: 06.05.92
Co-driver: James Morgan
First rally: 2013 (Alan Healy Memorial Stages, 4th in class Suzuki Swift)
Rally starts: 64
English Rally Champion, 2015
British Rally Championship, 4th 2016/2017
First Briton to win Rally van Wervik (Belgium), 2018
About ADAC Rallye Deutschland
Competitive distance: 213.78 miles (344.04km)
ADAC Rallye Deutschland Itinerary
Thursday August 22
SS1 SSS St. Wendeler Land 5.20km (3.23 miles) 1908
Friday August 23
SS2 Stein und Wein 1 19.44km (12.08 miles) 1014
SS3 Mittelmosel 1 22.0km (13.67 miles) 1108
SS4 Wadern-Weiskirchen 1 9.27km (5.76 miles) 1243
Service Bostalsee 1403
SS5 Stein und Wein 2 19.44km (12.08 miles) 1542
SS6 Mittelmosel 2 22.0km (13.67 miles) 1636
SS7 Wadern-Weiskirchen 2 9.27km (5.76 miles) 1811
Service Bostalsee 1911
Saturday August 24
SS8 Freisen 1 14.78km (9.18 miles) 0809
SS9 Römerstrasse 1 12.28km (7.63 miles) 0912
SS10 Freisen 2 14.78km (9.18 miles) 1109
SS11 Römerstrasse 2 12.28km (7.63 miles) 1212
Service Bostalsee 1331
SS12 Arena Panzerplatte 1 10.73km (6.66 miles) 1508
SS13 Panzerplatte 1 41.17km (25.58 miles) 1546
Service Bostalsee 1741
SS14 Arena Panzerplatte 2 10.73km (6.66 miles) 1853
SS15 Panzerplatte 2 41.17km (25.58 miles) 1931
Service Bostalsee 2106
Sunday August 25
SS16 Grafschaft 1 28.06km (17.43 miles) 0746
SS17 Dhrontal 1 11.69km (7.26 miles) 0941
SS18 Grafschaft 2 28.06km (17.43 miles) 1010
SS19 Dhrontal 2 11.69km (7.26 miles) 1218
Finish Bostalsee 1323