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NGStages_JMSPhotoChesterfield rally driver Rhys Yates mastered one of the toughest events on the MSA British Rally Championship calendar by taking seventh overall at the Nicky Grist Stages in Wales.  The fifth round of the series is unique thanks to its mixed-surface format but Yates dealt with the two day blast over the forests and closed roads of the Epynt Military Ranges with ease to maintain his top ten BRC position.

Just two weeks prior, the Brettex Site Services backed Fiesta R5 Evo was stranded in a ditch on the RSAC Scottish Rally but the team worked tirelessly to repair the car in time for a brief pre event test last week.  Along with co-driver Tom Woodburn, Yates would head to the Builth Wells based rally without prior experience of the infamous Epynt asphalt roads which would form day two of the event.

Yates_Nicky_Grist_Stages-04First up though was 40 competitive miles in the forests made famous by the final round of the World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB.  Yates had the benefit of contesting the Crychan, Halfway and Route 60 stages as part of the BTRDA series in 2015 but the heavy rain and treacherous conditions which dominated the day would equalise any benefit that may have given the Michelin supported driver. But he was never outside of the top ten during the opening day in the mud strewn forests to finish leg one in a solid eighth.

After a change to asphalt set-up overnight, crews headed out to the Epynt ranges with the same fog, rain and inclement weather which was present the previous day.   Yates continued on the asphalt where he left off on the gravel the day before and set a string of impressive times over the opening loop. Despite a high speed visit to the scenery after a heavy landing in the Fiesta, a fourth fastest time on the 11th test was a highlight of the morning which assisted his move into seventh at the midday loop of stages.

Sadly any chance of improving on his position was scuppered as an incident on stage 15 cut short the event and crews were re-routed back to the Builth Wells finish ramp. But Yates was encouraged by his performance over the two day event.

“It’s certainly one of the toughest events I’ve ever done and I’m really pleased to have finished the event with no real dramas” says Yates. “It’s a real credit to the team for turning the car around in just a few days after the Scottish Rally and to reward them with another solid finish is  real bonus”.

Yates_Nicky_Grist_Stages-05Yates believes there is plenty left ‘in the bag’ too.  “I’m still learning the car and getting used to the extra power from the Evo kit so I’ve no doubt that our pace will increase on the remaining two asphalt rounds this year. We played our joker points this weekend which means we stay inside the top ten of the championship and I’m pleased with that, there are some experienced guys ahead of us.  There is a month until the next round in Ulster so we will try to get some more time in the car and see what we can do there.”

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

Images courtesy of JMS Photographic and Jakob Ebrey Photography.

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