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Yates Pirelli16Brettex Site Services backed rally driver Rhys Yates secured a solid result at last weekend’s Carlisle Rally, finishing 11th overall at round three of the MSA British Rally Championship.  Recovering from an early puncture which sent the Ford Fiesta R5 tumbling down the leader board to 22nd, Yates fought back during the two day event to finish just shy of a top ten position.

Partnered by regular co-driver Tom Woodburn, Yates would head to the Scottish Borders event after an encouraging sixth place at last month’s Circuit of Ireland Rally. With the added advantage of previous experience of the Kielder forest stages, the duo headed to Carlisle with one eye on the points table after creeping inside the score board top 10 after the “Circuit”.

However, Yates had his hopes dashed from the very first stage as the rough Kielder forest took its toll and a puncture meant Yates had to drive several miles on the rim. This resulted in a time only good enough for 22nd overall and with only four stages on Saturday afternoon, left an uphill task for the Chesterfield pilot.  Normal service was resumed on the second test and Yates set about trying to claw his way back towards the front, netting several top ten times to finish the opening leg in 12th overall.

Day two would see a change in the weather and the tough, unforgiving roads of Kielder forest would become even more tricky thanks to significant overnight rain. The Michelin backed Fiesta would prove to be equally as tricky to set up and Yates headed into the first of only three stages with a “loose” feeling rear end. With a finish in mind, Yates stayed out of trouble to finish just out of the points in 11th overall from a field of 56 starters.

“It’s probably been one of the toughest rallies I have contested in my career” said Yates at the finish. “The Kielder forests are notorious for their tough nature and we certainly had to treat them with respect so getting another finish was an important goal this time.  Our first stage puncture undoubtedly set us back and I really couldn’t find a set up I was happy with so we looked to the long term and focused on seat time and experience for the rest of the rally.”

Yates admits there is more to come from both him and the car “We always said that this would be a learning year for us and gain knowledge of the stages for next year” he says.  “There has been a lot of `firsts` this season so it’s all about finding our feet and building the pace gradually. When we have a clear run we have shown what we are capable of so it’s now time to focus on the Scottish Rally and see what we can do there”.

The next round of the series, the RSAC Scottish Rally is based in Dumfries and takes place in mid-June using classic stages in the surrounding forests.

Yates is supported by Brettex Site Services, Michelin, NGK Spark Plugs, MSL Motorsport and Simpson.

Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography

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