Derbyshire star Rhys Yates is eagerly looking forward to the 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship after strong introduction into Britain’s premier rallying series last year.
Having completed just 18 events before his BRC debut, Yates took the plunge and joined the new-look series, with the Ford Fiesta R5 driver finishing tenth in the standings in 2016 – his best result coming on the Circuit of Ireland with a fine sixth.
“Last season was a massive learning curve as we didn’t know what to fully expect heading to Mid Wales,” said Yates. “Jumping from an R2 car to an R5 was a big step but one I am pleased we did.
“We are a family run team and that means you have to do a lot more than driving which perhaps meant I didn’t do as well as I had hoped on some events. By getting a good team around me, led by the brilliant Andrew Smith at the end of the year I could focus a lot more on the driving, preparation and recceing and I think that showed in our stage times and competitiveness as well.”
Looking ahead to the new season, Yates will be joined by new co-driver, Carl Williamson. The Chesterfield man goes into 2017 with a different mindset compared to one year ago.
“It was quite strange doing the Cambrian at the weekend. A year ago that was a big challenge where as now it was very laid back and relaxed as the BRC has really moved me on as a driver and it has already given me further goals.
“I want to get as much seat time in as possible before the Border Counties – you just can’t beat it. Working with Carl and all his experience is great as it is helping me with set-up which was one thing I struggled with last year. I wasn’t fully comfortable which meant I couldn’t push as much as I would have liked.”
Yates progressed strongly over the seven-round series, struggling on round one but setting top three stage times on the Isle of Man – mixing it with the BRC’s best. More of the same is hoped to be on the agenda as the Brettex-backed driver is eager to get going and improve.
“My goals are always moving and have nothing completely set in stone. Priority number one is to improve my championship position – top five would be really nice.
“As regards to events, I would love to be setting decent times on both surfaces and finishing in the top five on gravel and really pushing on for a podium on the Tarmac. I think it’s realistic and I cannot wait to get going once again.”