Talented Chesterfield race ace Rhys Yates defied adversity to secure a solid result in the Carlisle Rally and maintain his strong form in the MSA British Rally Championship.
The 23-year-old Yates, who is backed by the mechanical engineering company Brettex Site Services, finished 11th overall in the third round of the championship.
He did well to recover from an early puncture, which sent his Ford Fiesta R5 tumbling down the leaderboard to 22nd, and fought back during the two-day event to end up just out of the points in a field of 56.
Partnered by regular co-driver Tom Woodburn, Yates headed to the Scottish Borders event after an encouraging sixth place at last month’s Circuit of Ireland Rally. And with the added advantage of previous experience of the Kielder Forest stages, the duo were full of confidence.
However, Yates had his hopes dashed from the very first stage as the forest took its toll and the puncture meant he had to drive several miles on the rim. With only four stages on the opening day, he was left an uphill task. Thankfully, normal service was soon resumed and he ended the day in 12th overall.
Day two saw a change in the weather and the rough, unforgiving roads became even more tricky thanks to significant overnight rain. But the Michelin-backed Fiesta managed to stay out of trouble.
“It was probably one of the toughest rallies I have contested in my career” said Yates, who is convinced there is more to come from both him and the car. “We always said this would be a learning year for us to gain knowledge of the stages for next year.”
The next round of the series, the Scottish Rally in Dumfries, takes place in mid-June.