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Rhys Yates endured a difficult weekend at his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after ending his Dayinsure Wales Rally GB campaign in a ditch on day two of the gruelling event (4th -7th October).

Despite setting the fastest time of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) contenders on the opening stage on Thursday night, the Brettex backed Skoda Fabia R5 pilot encountered a tough first leg and with it, any hopes of taking the prestigious British title.

After an encouraging start to the Saturday’s stages, Yates and co-driver Elliott Edmondson sadly put the Skoda off the road and out of the event.

Yates headed to the arduous and challenging four-day event with an outside chance of clinching the British Rally Championship honours thanks to a runner-up position on the opening round of the season and third spot at the Ulster Rally in August. The Chesterfield ace has also impressed on his European outings this year, bagging his first overseas victory at Rally Van Wervik in Belgium.

The rally saw the World’s best drivers head to the Deeside rally base for 23 stages and 318 kilometres of competitive driving during the week, one of the toughest events on the World Rally Championship calendar. With the coveted British title up for grabs, Yates would be on a mission to snatch the honours on the opening points scoring opportunity which would be taken after the first full day of forest stages on Friday night.

First blood would go to Yates during the short but spectacular Tir-Prince Super Special on Thursday night. Setting the quickest BRC time overall in front of the thousands of spectators, Yates would set himself up perfectly for a battle in the forests the next day thanks to a two-second advantage over his nearest rival.

The buffer would soon be lost however as on the opening test of the day, Yates dropped to third after the eight-kilometre Clocaenog stage. Despite a confident pre-rally test, the conditions in the north Wales forests were significantly different to that experienced the previous week and the Skoda’s set up would not be suited to the wet and muddy conditions.

A double puncture in the rough stages hampered progress during the afternoon and Yates would find himself in second place after leg one; his BRC title hopes dashed.

However, this meant Yates could relax over the remainder of the rally and use the time to gather experience for the future. But on the Myherin stage, he clipped a bank and slid into a large ditch. With no spectators in the near vicinity to help extract the car, Yates was forced out of the event.

“Of course, it’s disappointing not to have finished my home round of the World Championship but I always said that I would come here to fight as hard as possible for the British title and when you are on the limit, these things happen,” said Yates.

“I know our pace is there and it’s a real shame it didn’t quite shine through this weekend. We were unlucky with the punctures but in those conditions, it was a miracle that we didn’t get more. Wales Rally GB has never been kind to me, it’s my nemesis really so I`m determined to come back next year and conquer it once and for all.”

Yates doesn’t have time to dwell on his Welsh experience, however. He now looks towards next weekend as he heads to Latvia for the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier, Rally Liepāja (12-14th October).

“Its good to have something to focus on now and I`m really looking forward to re-joining Roman Kresta Racing for the rally. We have unfinished business in the ERC and my sights are set on a Junior Under 28 podium this time around. It’s a tough ask, but I need to keep the pressure on myself. It all helps for the future”.

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

Image credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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