‘One of the best events of my life”. That’s how Chesterfield driver Rhys Yates summed up his momentous fourth place in the iconic Monte Carlo Rally to kick-start his World Championship (WRC2) campaign.
Known as one of the most difficult races on the calendar, Monte Carlo is etched into the history books for claiming some of the best drivers in the sport.
But Yates drove with maturity and speed to turn his daunting debut into a memorable experience as he enjoyed a trouble-free run to bring home his Brettex-backed Skoda Fabia R5 just shy of the podium in his category and 14th overall.
It was the perfect start by Yates to the biggest year of his career, so no wonder he was overjoyed.
“This is exactly why I love competing in this sport ,” he said. “To finish fourth at Monte Carlo, on my WRC2 debut, it really doesn’t get much better than this.
“Everything came together, both in and out of the car. I have a great team around me.
“Monte Carlo is the kind of rally that punishes you if you take your eye off the ball. But I built myself up and I know there is more to come.
“I stayed out of trouble and was consistent to the end. That’s how I want to play this year.”
The rally is famed for its unpredictable conditions, and ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures greeted Yates in the French mountains. He was cautious to begin with, but was soon in full flow, taking two top-three stage times.
The second round of the championship is in Sweden in the middle of February.