Rally ace Rhys Yates hits career high on Portuguese debut

Chesterfield driver Rhys Yates in action on his Rally de Portugal debut.
Chesterfield driver Rhys Yates in action on his Rally de Portugal debut.

Career-best times against some of the best drivers in the world added up to a memorable debut in the Rally de Portugal for Chesterfield ace Rhys Yates.

The 27-year-old Yates finished only 15th place in the World Rally Championship (WRC) 2 event after collecting time penalties for missing the last stage on the opening day of the rally. This was because he suffered two punctures.

However, he unleashed a brilliant display on the final day of the three-day rally, producing top-four times in four of the five tests and even clocking his first-ever fastest-split time.

Had the day been a standalone rally, Yates would have finished as high as fourth, just 25 seconds behind the winner.

He said: “I have never felt as good in a rally car as I did at this event. On that last day, I just felt something click.

“Everything just flowed and felt really natural. I’ve never worked the car like that before or carried so much speed through the corners.

“I came into this year to learn lessons, and I really learned here. I was disappointed about the punctures, but with the hope of a result gone, the pressure wasn’t there and I could drive with much more freedom.

“Overall, Portugal was one of the best experiences nof my life.” Next up for Yates in his Skoda Fabia R5 is a trip to Finland in August.