Chesterfield’s Rhys Yates makes good start to British Rally Championship season
Rhys Yates made a successful start to his 2021 British Rally Championship campaign on Monday at Oulton Park, fighting for victory across eight stages and missing out on the top spot by just one second.
Yates made a wise call to play his championship points joker on the first round of the season, earning an additional four points on top of his 18 points for finishing second.
It still means Yates is second in the championship, but just three points shy of the leader thanks to playing his joker.
Yates said: “I am really happy with our performance over the weekend, the car was awesome and the team did a brilliant job, obviously the win would have been great especially as we have missed out on the smallest margin possible.
"We did all we could with the ever changing stage conditions making it very difficult for the front cars to fight for fastest times.
"We are happy knowing our speed is definitely there and we are now in a good position to fight for the championship going to the Nicky Grist.”
It was the first time Yates was entering a points-scoring championship event since February 2020. The last time he’d competed in the BRC he came home third on the 2020 Cambrian Rally so expectations were high.
The opening pair of stages were two passes of a 11.30 kilometre stage using a mixture of gravel access roads and Oulton Park’s iconic race track with the odd chicane thrown in to keep things interesting.
Yates opened his BRC account with the joint second fastest time on stage one, only two seconds short of claiming the stage win.
The close competition on the first stage was only a sign of things to come for the rest of the day as an exciting fight for victory unfolded with Yates right in the thick of it. Confidence was high as a stage win followed on stage two, with Yates just one second from the lead.
The next three stages saw Yates keeping on pace, missing out on stage wins by mere seconds, but stage six saw Yates soar to the top of the BRC1 field to lead by one second.
The penultimate stage of the rally was not without drama for the drivers fighting at the top, with Yates having a difficult stage, emerging second overall but still just two seconds from the lead.
Anything was possible heading into the final stage and this was the mentality and belief carried with Yates through the final 10.91 kilometres of the rally chasing down the lead.
Yates was able to make up time on the leader through the stage, but it wasn’t enough, losing out on his maiden BRC rally win by just one second.
The rally proved to be a real rollercoaster ride of excitement and intrigue for the Chesterfield driver with the BRC offering a taste of what’s to come for the rest of the 2021 season.