During the coronavirus lockdown, Chesterfield rally driver Rhys Yates beat the best of the rest in the World Rally Championship’s two eSports WRC competitions. Watched by tens of thousands of fans from all around the world, he stood on top of the world. Virtually.
On Saturday, it’s back to reality. The sport of rallying will emerge from lockdown for the first competition since March. And Rhys will be right at the heart of that event, driving his factory-prepared Ford Fiesta Rally2.
The event, based in Greystoke forest, close to Penrith in Cumbria, is organised by multiple World Rally Championship-winning team M-Sport.
“The M-Sport Back to Rally Stages really does what it says on the tin,” said Rhys. “The governing body of British motorsport (Motorsport UK) has allowed this event to go ahead, the first rally in Britain since March and it’s fantastic to be getting back out there.”
The former English Rally Champion has been seeded at #3 for the event.
“The important thing is to get out there and knock some of the rust off,” continued Rhys. “It’s a long time since we were competing and getting back up to speed always takes a little while – you have to get your head around what these cars can do again.”
And what Rhys’ Ford Fiesta Rally2 can do is accelerate to 60mph almost as quickly as a Formula 1 car… on gravel.
“The car’s fantastic,” said Rhys, “and the roads up in Greystoke are really good as well. I’ve a fair idea of my way around the place, but one of the main drivers for this weekend is to get out and have some fun. These cars put a big smile on the faces inside the car as well as those on the outside, so fun is a big part of Saturday.”
“Beyond this weekend, the programme for the rest of the season hasn’t been completely decided yet, but we should know more soon.”