Chesterfield's Rhys Yates heads to Corsica for WRC round four
Rhys Yates will head to the Mediterranean island of Corsica this week for the fourth round of the World Rally Championship as he aims to continue his impressive run of form in the WRC2 category at the Tour de Course (28-31 March).
The Chesterfield driver has enjoyed an almost perfect start to his debut season in the World Championship, securing fourth place at the legendary Rallye Monte Carlo in January, with a top ten result on his snow rally debut at Rally Sweden last month.
Driving his Brettex backed Skoda Fabia R5, the 26-year-old now heads to the fourth round of the series with hopes of yet another strong result to further enhance his ninth place in the championship standings.
Yates and co-driver James Morgan will both make their debut on the event which offers a unique test of car and crew. Over 345 kilometres of competitive driving is in store across the French island, with a ragged rock face on one side and the sizeable cliffs and bright blue sea on the other, an iconic sight in world rallying.
A more abrasive surface than normal added to the narrow and unforgiving roads make Tour de Corse one of the most challenging in the calendar and Yates will need to draw on all his experience to secure more points for his WRC2 campaign.
Luckily, he is no stranger to Tarmac and has enjoyed some of his best results on a sealed surface. A top ten result in the Antibes Rally in 2018 was followed up by his first European win at Rally Van Wervik later in the year, both on closed public asphalt roads.
But Yates is well aware that Corsica offers a very unique challenge.
“I know that this (Corsica) will be nothing like I have ever done before and I think some caution will need to be applied until we find a pace that we are happy with” he says.
“Corsica has everything really, some wider flat out sections followed by the sheer drop tight and twisty cliff-edge roads that are legendary on the event so there will be a lot to get used to. It will be tough to try and manage a good pace and keep one eye on the championship but after four-weeks out of the driver’s seat I’m ready to get going again”.
Yates, like many others in the WRC2 category, did not make the trip to round three in Mexico so is eager to climb back up the championship standings in Corsica.
“We are focusing on the European rounds this year and there was no way we could have made Mexico and got the car back in time. The time out has ensured that both I and the car are match fit for the following rounds and as the confidence starts to build, I know the stage times will improve. There is more to come yet but it’s a long year, so I have to pace myself”
Tour de Corse starts on Friday with two loops of three stages and no opportunity for service, is followed by a long journey north to overnight in Bastia. Saturday contains over half of the total event mileage with Sunday offering just two tests to round off the event near Calvi.
Yates is backed by Brettex, Pirelli Motorsport, Rainworth Skoda, Nicky Grist Motorsport, H&F Furniture, NGK Spark Plugs and P1 Racewear.