Chesterfield rally driver Rhys Yates heads to mainland Europe for the first time in his career this week as he contests the fourth round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, the Ypres Rally in Belgium
Having scored a confidence-boosting result at the opening two rounds of the series, Yates suffered a retirement in Scotland last time out and will aim to reignite his championship hopes at the event. The popular International rally marks the switch to asphalt for the first time this season, a surface Yates is historically strong on.
The Brettex backed Ford Fiesta R5 pilot is enjoying his second season in the British Championship and entered the RSAC Scottish Rally just four points away from a podium position in the standings.
Clipping a rock in the early stages of the event meant Yates and co-driver Carl Williamson had to withdraw from the rally and will now cross the English Channel in a bid to climb back up the leaderboard on the closed roads around Ypres.
Yates scored his first overall victory on a sealed surface event at Rockingham last year, a form which showed in the closing stages of the BRC in 2016, setting many top three stage times on the Ulster Rally and Rally Isle of Man. D espite contesting the Ypres Rally for the first time, he is looking forward to the return to asphalt.
“I’m certainly glad we are back on tar again although I do know the Ypres Rally is a unique event and a far cry from the other closed road events in the BRC” says Yates.
“When everything comes together I feel very at home on asphalt and that showed last year with my times so I’m hoping we won’t be too far away from the pace in Belgium”.
Yates doesn’t believe the lack of experience abroad will hamper him too much either.
“We will have a test out there the week before to get used to the roads and of course I will call on Carl’s experience to help get settled in. I know the ditches are big and the roads are super- fast so we will need to really knuckle down and stay out of trouble. But I’m hopeful of a decent result and it would be nice to get back to where we were in the championship before the Scottish.”