Yates on top of world after conquering notorious Ypres Rally

Sitting pretty among some of the best drivers in the world was Chesterfield ace Rhys Yates at the notorious two-day Ypres Rally in Belgium last weekend.

Tuesday, 27th June 2017, 1:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:31 am
Chesterfield ace Rhys Yates waves to his fans at the Ypres Rally in Belgium. (PHOTO BY: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

For Yates came home an impressive fifth in his Brettex-backed Ford Fiesta R5, producing a mature drive to score valuable points in his assault on the Prestone MRA British Rally Championship (BRC).

In his first-ever overseas event, he stayed out of trouble to ensure he remains firmly in the top ten of the standings and only a handful of points from the podium spots.

It was also a big boost to his confidence after being forced to retire from last month’s Scottish Rally, and he is now in buoyant mood in only his second full season behind the wheel of the Fiesta.

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The Ypres Rally is famed for its super-fast, closed public roads and cavernous ditches, so Yates took an understandably cautious approach to the opening leg on Friday night, which contained eight stages under the cover of dusk. But he still managed to return to the overnight halt in seventh.

“They were probably the hardest eight stages I have ever done,” he said. “The roads were something else, and nothing really prepares you for them.

“A 20-strong fan-club came over from the UK to support me, and it was great to see the banners, which certainly helped with confidence.”

Day two comprised a further 12 stages, which made up the bulk of the rally’s 260 kilometres. Several top-line drivers fell by the wayside, but Yates, guided by co-driver Carl Williamson, crossed the finish ramp in 25th overall and the fifth BRC contender.

“The feeling of relief was unbelievable when you looked at the carnage around you,” said Yates. “There were cars in ditches and fields everywhere, and you nedeed to be inch-perfect on every stage.

“It made me realise how well we did. To come away with fifth BRC is really pleasing. It was a fantastic event, and I’m proud of our achievement.”

The BRC series now heads to Wales for the Nicky Grist Stages next month.