Rhys Yates will return to World Rally Championship (WRC) action at next week’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland – and the Chesterfield driver has been counting the minutes until this moment.
The 27-year-old and his Rhys Yates Rallying (RYR) team were forced out of the last WRC round in Finland after an accident in Belgium caused too much damage to the ŠKODA.
But now, he’s back.
"Missing Finland really hurt," he said. "But it couldn’t be helped. All we could do was look forward and focus on what’s coming in Germany and I’m very, very excited about that."
Based close to the French border in Germany’s south-west, ADAC Rallye Deutschland is one of the most technically demanding asphalt rallies on the calendar.
The event has a bit of everything.
There’s a day among the grapes, where high-sided vineyard roads rise up from the Mosel river, winding their way up the steep contours with shockingly fast straights punctuated by frustratingly slow hairpin bends.
Then there are the country lanes, which are going to be the most familiar for Rhys and finally there’s the most feared of them all: Panzerplatte, which falls on Saturday (August 24).
"Panzerplatte and the Baumholder military range is where the American army goes to test its tanks," said Rhys. "We will drive on the Tarmac roads across the military range and, at the side of the road, there are these things called hinkelsteins. Basically, a hinkelstein is a piece of rock – in some places bigger than our ŠKODA – which is used to keep the tanks on the road!
"Now, I don’t know a lot about tanks, but I’m told some of these things can weigh more than 60 tonnes and travel at close to 40mph. Any bit of rock that can keep that on the straight and narrow is going to eat our rally car for breakfast. We’ll be giving the hinkelsteins a wide berth."
Rhys arrives in Germany on the back of a fantastic start to his maiden WRC 2 campaign, especially on Tarmac. He managed a pair of top-five finishes on the Rallye Monte-Carlo and Tour de Corse earlier this year.
"Fourth [in WRC 2] on the Monte was just a brilliant start to the year and to my first WRC 2 season," he said. "It was such a difficult rally, I didn't know what to expect, but we kept our heads down and came home with an amazing result on one of the world’s most famous and complicated rallies.
"It was the same in Corsica: first time there, really tough event and we got the result. That’s what I want to do in Germany. It’s about learning for me this year. I’ve never done these rallies, everyone is a step into the complete unknown. I’ve read so much and watched so many videos, to be out there driving on roads like that Panzerplatte stage is a dream come true.
"But I have a job to do next week. I have to get to the finish, learn the rally and get ready for next year and that’s what we’re going to be doing."