Fresh from a solid season-opening fourth place (WRC 2 class) at the Monte Carlo Rally, Rhys Yates has confirmed he will dovetail his world championship effort with a shot at home glory in the British Rally Championship.
The Chesterfield driver made his debut with world champion squad M-Sport Ford World Rally Team in Monte Carlo last week, where he drove a factory-prepared Ford Fiesta R5 MkII. He will drive the same car in this year’s British Rally Championship, where he hopes to emulate his father John’s achievements.
Rhys won the English Rally Championship in 2015, but is now ready to bring home another British title.
He said: “Dad’s been a British champion on two wheels and it would be really nice for me to do the same on four wheels. Be nice to have two Yates British champions! But, you know, they don’t just give these things out, you’ve got to get out there and earn them. You only have to look at the names on the trophy, there’s so many world champions who won in Britain first, to know how much this title means.
“There’s a lot of good competition out there with some really fast guys. I’m looking forward to it, we’ve come close in the past and it’s good to be giving it another go this time.”
The 27-year-old finished fourth in the British Rally Championship in 2017 and 2018. His first foray into the WRC last season has given him more experience and greater confidence ahead of his BRC return.
“I think we’re in with a good chance [of winning],” he said. “Winning is definitely the aim, but as well as that, doing the BRC’s going to give us some more good experience for the WRC.
“I’ve always said that I would want to support the British Rally Championship when I can. I really enjoy the rallies, they’re great events with great stages. OK, they’re a bit shorter than WRC rounds, but it’s really good for time in the car and to help build the experience. The rallies land nicely between the WRC rounds we’re doing, which is great for seat time.
“And the fact that they are that little bit shorter is actually a good thing – one area I want to work on this year is getting out of the blocks quicker. That’s crucial for me and it’s something that’s vital to success in BRC. If you don’t make a good start, it’s hard to catch that time back. It’s going to be a busy year with the WRC 2 programme, but it’s going to be a great one.”
Rhys’ maiden BRC outing of the season comes at next week’s Llandudno-based opener, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally (Saturday February 8).
Rhys’ father John Yates won the British Super Sport 400 title in 1990.