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Yates UlsterRallyChesterfield rally driver Rhys Yates overcame “one of the toughest” rallies he has ever done to take an impressive eight overall at last weekend’s Ulster Rally. As if his result on the MSA British Rally Championship qualifier was not enough, Yates and co-driver Tom Woodburn were awarded the Philip White Young Achievers Award by rally organisers for their performance on the Londonderry based event.

In only his first year in the British Rally Championship, Yates has always sighted 2016 as a learning year as he settles into his new Fiesta R5 Evo.  His consistent performance during the season has allowed him to sit firmly inside the top ten of the championship standings but the Brettex Site Services backed pilot would look to take mature approach to the penultimate round of the series in Northern Ireland.

After a strong run to sixth BRC crew at the first sealed surface event of the year at the Circuit of Ireland Rally, Yates had perhaps already proved his pace on the Irish closed road events.  But the Ulster Rally would be one of the hardest of the season with heavy rain making the going treacherous for the crews.  With localised showers dominating the proceedings on the opening leg of the event, tyre choice would prove crucial and Yates was thankful for his support from tyre giant Michelin this season.

Despite a confidence boosting top 12 position on the opening stage, a puncture would hamper progress on the second test of the day for Yates which sent him down the leader board to 16th. This of course was not representative of his progress during the afternoon’s stages and Yates spent the remainder of the day setting a wrath of top ten stage times to end the leg in 11th overall.

Day two would provide the bulk of the event mileage and it would be another tough test for even the most experienced of competitor.  The rain returned in anger and the Ulster roads remained treacherous and muddy. But similar to his performance during the season, Yates took a mature approach to the conditions and balanced his pace with consistency to start inroads on the leader board. By the time the Brettex Fiesta crossed the finish ramp on Saturday evening, Yates had bagged eighth overall and seventh BRC crew home.

Yates HeadshotYates and Woodburn’s efforts attracted the attention of rally organisers who awarded the duo the prestigious Young Achievers Award, joining a list of talents including World Rally Championship star Craig Breen.  “It’s a real honour to have our efforts this weekend recognised in this way” said Yates at the finish.  “It’s been one of the toughest events I’ve ever done and we’ve had everything thrown at us so to come out with eighth overall is a real confidence boost for us as we head towards the final round next month.  I’m really pleased to see our times are competitive now as we begin to really learn the car, it was always a ‘feet-finding’ year and I think we are certainly starting to do that.”

The final round of the British Rally Championship is the Rally Isle of Man which is a double points scoring opportunity and takes place over three days in September. Yates is supported by Brettex Site Services, Michelin, NGK Spark Plugs, and Simpson.

Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography

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