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Rhys Yates made the best possible start to his Prestone MSA British Rally Championship preparations last weekend, taking third overall at the Speyside Stages (21st April) in Elgin, Scotland round two of the ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship.

The Chesterfield star will embark on his third season in the BRC this week as the championship kicks off at the Pirelli International Rally, but would head to the North East of Scotland in a bid to gain additional seat time in the Brettex backed Skoda Fabia R5. His efforts were rewarded with a podium spot against tough competition in the 100 strong field.

Run by the Carlisle based CA1 outfit, Yates and co-driver Alex Lee would ensure they would head to the British Championship in the best possible form, by tackling the Scottish event at the weekend, proving further still their intentions for a strong BRC campaign.

Despite being the 25 year old’s first trip to the event and having to rely on the organisers provided route notes, Yates would set his stall out early on and a joint fastest time over the second test in Cooper Park highlighted his intentions from the off.

Never straying outside of the top three positions on each of the 10 stages in the rally, he reached the Elgin finish podium to spray the champagne in fine style and would head to Carlisle this week in a buoyant mood.

“I’ve really enjoyed the event today and it’s been the perfect way to kick-start our BRC season in the Skoda” said Yates at the finish celebrations.

“We had nothing to prove by coming here aside from getting extra miles under our belts and it was a very relaxed rally. The stages are great and the pace up here is pretty intense so we couldn’t afford to back off too much. But we are right where we want to be and I’m really excited about the prospect of the BRC season getting underway”.

His third season in the British Championship could arguably be his best chance yet of bettering his fourth overall in the championship in 2017 as his knowledge of the events and additional experience plays a valuable part.

“I really feel I`m ready for this year” he says, “more than I ever have been and everything has come together perfectly. It’s great to have the help and support of the CA1 Sport team, their experience is incredibly valuable and having Alex back in the car is great for consistency. There are many competitors out there with more experience than me and I do have to remind myself I’ve only been rallying a four wheel drive for three years now, but the encouraging thing is that my pace never stops improving and that’s a path I want to continue throughout the year”.

His BRC campaign will be boosted by selected overseas outings which Yates believes will help his domestic assault

“You can never have too much seat time but competing abroad on events I’ve never done before ads an extra dimension to my driving style. I have never wanted to stand still in the sport and I’ll admit I’m learning all the time, so heading into Europe is important for me to develop my skills and keep shaving tenths off here and there. Those all add up and I`ll be looking to make sure we start the BRC off in the best possible way in Carlisle.”

Yates is sponsored by Brettex, Michelin Motorsport, Jordan Road Surfacing, Rallynuts, Rainworth Skoda, Nicky Grist Motorsport, H&F Furniture, Draper Tools and Protyre.

Images courtesy of Camran Knowles, MCR Motorsport Media & Josef Petru

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