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yates-iom16bChesterfield rally star Rhys Yates showed an impressive turn of pace at last weekend’s Rally Isle of Man to record a series of top three stage times on the final round of the MSA British Rally Championship.  The Brettex Site Services backed ace was on track for his best performance of the year, before retirement during the closing stages of the three day event.

Yates headed across the Irish Sea to tackle the three day blast across the closed public roads on the Isle of Man in his familiar Michelin shod Fiesta R5.  In his inaugural year in the British Championship, Yates has been tipped as ‘one to watch’ in the series, beating many experienced drivers on both gravel and asphalt surfaces.  Yates and co-driver Tom Woodburn were aiming to end the season on a high and improve on their season topping sixth spot.

And Yates would get off to the best possible start on the Thursday night super special stage, setting a third overall time on the Douglas Promenade stage before heading into two stages under the cover of darkness. The Manx roads are widely renowned as some of the trickiest there is and Yates would sensibly elect to conserve the car through the remaining night time tests, ending the leg in a solid sixth overall.

With 160 miles on offer, the bulk of the competitive action would take place on Friday with more night stages to come for the 150 crews which started the event.  Yates continued where he left off the day before with a string of impressive stage times, culminating with a second fastest time over the 4 mile “Snuff the Wind” test.

yates-iom16aHis form continued throughout the day and Yates guided the Brettex Fiesta through the Manx lanes in impressive style to return to the TT Grandstand service that evening in a confidence boosting fifth overall.  Sadly on the opening stage of Saturday morning, a small mistake on a tight section disabled the Fiesta and Yates was forced to retire from the event, but the point was proven and Yates remained in a positive mood as he returned to the rally base.

“Of course it’s a shame we couldn’t take the position through to the end but we have shown just what we are capable of this weekend” says Yates.  “The Manx is one of the toughest rallies in the world and our pace has really picked up throughout the year, our times have proved that.  Experience is important though and our plan was always to use this as a learning year, it’s a new car and the events are all new to me too. We have so many positives to draw from this season and I’d like to think we will be fighting for podiums in 2017”.

Yates will now look forward to October when he will contest his first ever World Rally Championship event, Wales Rally GB.

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

Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography

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