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MW16 Yates (2)Brettex Site Services backed Rhys Yates stamped his authority firmly on the leader board of the Mid Wales Stages last weekend before crashing out of the opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship. The Chesterfield rally star managed to set some blistering times in the snow laden conditions in Wales, before sliding off the road on the fourth stage of the event.

The two-day Newtown based rally would kick off this year’s MSA British Rally Championship and along with co-driver Tom Woodburn; the duo had been waiting for this moment since acquiring the Ford Fiesta R5 in 2015. The season ahead was always going to be a learning year for the 23 year old Michelin supported Yates, a last minute weather change saw almost 4 inches of snow fall in the Myherin and Hafren forests on the lead up to the event, making the event even more challenging than before.

With just two stages taking place on Saturday under the cover of darkness, Yates would need to deal with a rather extensive list of “firsts” during the 28 mile blast in Hafren and Myherin, which he duly managed with ease.  Despite having never driven a recce before, created his own notes, driven on snow or tackled gravel stages at night, Yates showed no sign of pre-event nerves by kicking off the event with an impressive fifth fastest stage time on the second test of the event. Sadly a time zapping puncture on the opener meant he would end the day just outside the top 10 overall.

“That’s better” beamed Yates at the end of day service.  “We did have a rather hairy moment towards the end of the second stage where we became a snow plough for several yards but it was a good time overall. I’m glad the night is over and at least we are still here, there are plenty of people who aren’t and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow now, it should be much better in the daylight”.

The second day had eased a touch for the BRC contenders to tackle a further 40 miles of tough stages. But the conditions were still tough and Yates started the day with a spin which lost well over 10 seconds on first daylight stage of the event. However it would be the fourth stage which would see the demise of the Michelin shod Fiesta.

“It was simple really, we just went too fast into a corner and ran wide into a ditch and that was that” explained Yates. “I’m even more gutted with myself as it was the best I had ever felt with the car and I was sure we could make inroads into our overall position”.

But Yates took a positive approach to the weekend. “We had to overcome a lot this weekend and even the really experienced crews had a tough time on the stages” he said.  “To set a top five time on my first ever BRC event is encouraging. To do it in the dark, in the snow it pretty mind blowing to be honest.  It’s a long season so we will look to the next round for a chance to put some decent points on the board.”

The next round takes place in just four weeks’ time in Belfast for the closed road, Circuit of Ireland.

Yates is supported by Brettex Site Services, Michelin, NGK and Simpson.

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