Using the BTRDA Rally Series qualifier as a test bed for his second BRC attempt, the 24 year old will use his familiar liveried Fiesta R5 on the Llandudno based event to gain seat time ahead of the opening round of the BRC, the Border Counties Rally at the end of March. Yates will also use the event to acclimatise to his new-for-2017 co-driver, the experienced Carl Williamson.
Yates was dubbed one-to-watch during last year’s British Championship. Despite being only his first season behind the wheel of a four wheel drive machine, the Brettex Site Services backed pilot took a string of fastest stage times and podium finishes during the season in just his second full championship campaign in the sport. Yates has set his sights on bettering his 10th place overall in the series last year.
Having attracted the attentions of Michelin in 2016, Yates has once again secured the backing of the French tyre manufacturer for this season which he believes will be key to his championship assault.
“To have Michelin behind us once again this year will be critical to our season’s aspirations” he says. “Having the confidence to just be able to drive the Fiesta, knowing exactly what the tyres will do and how far we can push them from the very first stage takes a lot of pressure off and means we can get our pace right from the off”.
Yates is looking forward to the season ahead and believes contesting events such as the Cambrian is important for his pre-BRC preparations. Starting the event at number eight seed, he finished sixth overall in the North Wales forests last year and is confident of another top 10 result.
“It would be foolish to simply turn up to the first round of the British Championship and expect to be on the pace without a decent test beforehand” he explains. “Some of the top crews are testing every single weekend so doing the Cambrian was important for us to settle into a rhythm. It’s more important than ever to be able to be competitive straight away, the BRC is going to be very close this year.”
The Cambrian Rally takes place this Saturday (11th February) and consists of over 40 miles in the forests of North Wales.
Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography