Rhys Yates delivered an inspired and point-scoring Monte Carlo Rally result on his debut with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.
Competing on one of the World Rally Championship’s toughest and most technical events for only the second time, Rhys impressed with a mature and level-headed drive to deliver his Ford Fiesta R5 MkII to fourth place in WRC 2.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that the Monte is one very, very tough rally,” said the 27-year-old Chesterfield driver at the Sunday afternoon finish alongside Monaco’s famous harbourside.
“I’m really pleased with the progress I’ve made here. There was so much that was new for me this week, the car, some of the conditions and the tyres. I’d never driven a studded ice tyre on bone-dry Tarmac before, for example. It was pretty wild how much the car breaks away and slides – that was pretty exciting at times.
“Obviously we’ve had a good look at the data and the times and, when the conditions are that bit more consistent and the experience doesn’t matter quite so much, we’re close to where we want to be in terms of the speed. That’s what I came for.”
Rhys admits his experience from last season’s Monte Carlo Rally paid off this time around. He added: “When I came to this rally for the first time ever last year, I’d heard so many stories of how this one can bite you really hard. I was a bit tentative at times, almost tip-toeing my way through. This time I was more forceful and more aggressive in some of those compromised conditions – that came from the confidence of getting through last year. It was another step forward this week and when we come back next time we’ll have even more experience and more pace.”
After three days and one night in the French Alps, Rhys emerged into the sunshine of a Sunday afternoon in the world-famous Principality. Getting to the finish was, he admitted, a big relief.
“You’re always fairly tense driving on these roads,” he said. “As much as you’re trying to relax yourself and just drive to the grip beneath you, you find yourself looking at a damp patch and asking: “Is that damp or is that black ice?” When you’re coming down from 100mph on a racing tyre, that can be a pretty big gamble!
“This is the Monte Carlo Rally though, it’s the most famous one in the world and to be here in this amazing place at the finish of such a tough event is a fantastic result. I’m really pleased with the points I’ve got for myself and for M-Sport Ford in WRC 2. Now we look forward to the next one.”