Chesterfield rally driver Rhys Yates tames the notorious Ypres Rally to be fifth British Rally Championship crew home
Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) contender Rhys Yates brought his Brettex backed Ford Fiesta R5 home in an impressive fifth place at last weekends Ypres Rally in Belgium (23 / 24th June).
Mastering the notorious two-day event which claimed some of the world’s best drivers, Yates returned a mature drive to score valuable points for his BRC assault. In only his second full season behind the wheel of the Fiesta, the Chesterfield ace stayed largely out of trouble to ensure he stays firmly inside the top ten of the series and just a handful of points away from the podium spots.
Yates has enjoyed a confidence-boosting start to the season with two decent results at the opening rounds of the year. Despite retiring from last month’s Scottish Rally, Yates would head to his first ever overseas event in a buoyant mood as the championship made the switch onto asphalt for the first time in 2017.
Famed for its super-fast closed public roads in the Ypres region and cavernous ditches, he would understandably take a cautious approach to the opening leg on Friday night which contained eight stages under the cover of dusk. That said, he soon settled into the unique stages and returned to the overnight halt in seventh.
“That was probably the hardest eight stages I have ever done,” said Yates that evening.
“The roads are just something else and nothing really prepares you for them, apart from getting out there and driving. A twenty strong fan club has come over from the UK to support us this weekend and its great to see the banners out on the stages which certainly helps with the confidence. But we are not taking any risks and we know tomorrow is the bigger day”.
Indeed it was, a further 12 stages making up the bulk of the 260km of competitive driving and it would not be long before the infamous roads started to claim several top-line drivers. Yates, guided by co-driver Carl Williamson managed to keep his nose clean and despite several “moments” during the day, returned to cross the Ypres finish ramp in 25th overall and fifth BRC contender home.
“The feeling of relief of getting over that finish ramp is unbelievable,” said Yates at the finish.
“When you look at the carnage around you it makes you realise how well we really did this weekend. There were cars in ditches and fields everywhere and you really need to be inch-perfect on every stage. These guys have been doing it for years too and this is my first time here so to come away with fifth BRC is something I`m really pleased with. It has been a fantastic event and I`m proud of our achievement”.
The series now heads back to Wales for the Nicky Grist Stages in just two weeks time. The event combines both gravel and asphalt to provide the ultimate challenge for BRC crews.
Yates is backed in 2017 by Michelin, Protyre, Kick Motorsport, Simpson, Zenith Racing, Prestone, Draper Tools, Jordan Road Surfacing and NGK Spark Plugs.
He also receives grateful support from a number of local businesses including H&F PES, Maun Motors, MFA, Calow Lane MOT Centre, The Mobility Shop, Glazebrook Transport, Woodleigh Motor Sales, Juice Motorsport and Clear Edge Filtration Group.