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Fresh from a career best third overall at the Nicky Grist Stages in July, Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) contender Rhys Yates will head to the Ulster Rally in Northern Ireland this weekend (18/19 August), seeking to repeat his impressive podium result.

After a solid season behind the wheel of his Brettex backed Ford Fiesta R5, the Chesterfield pilot will go into the final two rounds of the series in fifth place overall but only a mere eight points away from a top three place in the standings.

The Londonderry based event marks the championship’s shift to full asphalt for the remainder of the year and Yates is confident of a move up the leader board on his preferred surface.

Yates has shown a mature drive this season, failing to finish only the Scottish Rally and his increase in pace over the midpoint of the championship culminated in a podium at the Nicky Grist. His performance on the second day of the event, which was held across the asphalt of the Epynt Military Ranges bodes well for the closed public roads in Northern Ireland.

The summer break has allowed the highest placed Englishman in the series to take stock of his last round efforts.

“I was pleased enough with how the gravel stages on the opening leg were going and the pace out front was pretty insane,” says Yates.

“But I didn’t want to risk everything in the forests and jeopardise the season with a non finish so played the long game really. But as the stages went by on Sunday I found myself in a podium position and there was no way I was going to let go of that. It was a huge battle between Marty (McCormack) and me but I managed to hold him off. It was proper rallying that day”.

Yates feels he is more prepared than ever for the final two rounds, both on tricky closed roads.

“I enjoyed the Ulster last year,” he said. “But there are some really quick lads from the Irish Championship so it’s important not to get too wrapped up in the overall leader board. I feel as ready as I can be to try and climb the BRC standings and that’s the goal really. I’ve been doing my own thing all season long and it’s not about to change this weekend.”

The Ulster Rally offers over 130 miles of closed public roads surrounding the rally base in Londonderry. Friday 18th August sees crews contest a handful of stages under the cover of darkness before the remainder of the rally is played out during Saturday 19th.

Yates is backed in 2017 by Michelin, Protyre, Kick Motorsport, Simpson, Zenith Racing, Prestone, Draper Tools, Jordan Road Surfacing and NGK Spark Plugs.

He also receives grateful support from a number of local businesses including 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 Jakob Ebrey

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