In a field swamped with BRC runners eager to carry out pre-season testing, Yates fired in series of top ten times on the Cockermouth based event to give a confidence boost to his assault on the BRC which kicks off with next weekend’s Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally.
The Brettex Site Services backed Fiesta pilot will now concentrate on his second season in the BRC and aims to become a frontrunner in the series.
The ex-British Moto X rider has had a rapid rise through the ranks since his first competitive rally outing in 2013 behind the wheel of a Suzuki Swift. Sporadic outings in the underpowered machine during the year would mould an attacking style which transposed into the Ford Fiesta R2 he acquired to contest the BTRDA series in 2015.
Winning a plethora of titles during the season, Yates bagged the MSA English Rally Championship and BTRDA Class B10 awards at the first attempt and the year culminated in the arrival of the new Fiesta R5 which he took to a top ten position on the Cambrian Rally that Autumn.
A season in the new-look British Rally Championship in 2016 followed and Yates was dubbed ‘one to watch’ as his talent shone through with several fastest stage times throughout the campaign. His final finishing spot of tenth was perhaps not indicative of his overall pace and 2017 will be his chance to move into the upper end of the leader board.
Backed by Michelin, Zenith Racing, Simpson, Protyre Motorsport, Draper Tools, Jordan Road Surfacing, Prestone and NGK Spark Plugs who return for a second year, Yates has plenty of support for his BRC assault.
The progressive youngster has also attracted the attentions of a group of local businesses who have all pledged their support for his pending campaign. With experienced co-driver Carl Williamson alongside, is confident of a strong showing.
“Everything feels right this year and we have a really good team around us to make the most of the season ahead” says Yates.
“Last year was all about adapting to the car and getting to grips with how far I could push and what the limits were. OK, sometimes I found those limits but that’s all part of the learning curve. I needed to learn the events too and I think having that experience behind me, plus being able to tap into Carl’s (Williamson) knowledge will be really valuable.
It has all the makings for a great year and I’d like to extend my thanks to all my backers for their valuable support.”
The championship begins on Friday 18th/Saturday 18th March with the Border Counties Rally which takes place in Jedburgh on the Scottish Borders. Yates has never ventured into the Tweed Valley before but doesn’t sight that as an issue.
“I think the whole rally will be a bit of an unknown for everyone really so it will be a good leveller. Carl and I have spent several days testing together so I’m confident that we can make the right notes for the stages during the pre-event recce. The route is one of the fastest I’ve seen too so it will be all about building the confidence in the quick stuff”.
Two stages on Friday night open proceedings as the BRC crews tackle the Craik double header under the cover of darkness before a further 45 miles of forests make up the Saturday format. Yates is now itching to get going.
“It’s felt like ages since the last round of the BRC in 2016 so I’ve been waiting for this weekend for some time now. We have a job to do so it’s all about knuckling down, setting some good times and getting the car to the finish. The higher up the results the better.”
Yates is also supported in 2017 by H&F, PES, Maun Motors, MFA, Calow Lane MOT Centre, The Mobility Shop, Glazebrook Transport, Woodleigh Motor Sales, Juice Motorsport and Clear Edge Filtration Group.
Image courtesy of Ashley Hewitt