YATES TO MAKE WRC DE­BUT ON RALLY GB

BRC driver ends sec­ond full sea­son of ral­ly­ing with Welsh out­ing

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

thought it was too much at that point. We wanted to try and get some more ex­pe­ri­ence this year and build on it with GB at the end of the year.”

Although Yates hasn’t been on the pace of this year’s BRC cham­pion Elfyn Evans, he be­lieves that com­pet­ing against the Welsh­man – who also leads the WRC2 stand­ings, where Yates will com­pete at Rally GB – makes the event less of a splash in the deep end.

“I think Evans has made it good for us,” added Yates. “He’s go­ing to be the one to beat in WRC2, he can go and win that any­where in the world. It’s been good to have him in the cham­pi­onship [BRC], also it’ll make the step up in pace less dras­tic when we go to GB as we’ve been com­pet­ing against him all year. Yes he’s won all year and we’re not there yet, but it’s been good to have him there as he’s the pace­set­ter in that class and gives us a bench­mark.”

This year has been a steep learn­ing curve for Yates, com­ing up against some of the best R5 driv­ers in the world, step­ping up to four-wheel-drive ma­chin­ery for the first time in 2016. He has shown flashes of pace, off­set by ac­ci­dents on the Mid Wales Stages and the Scot­tish Rally.

Yates didn’t up­grade to the Ford Fi­esta R5 Evo pack un­til the Scot­tish Rally. Af­ter rolling on that event, the 23-year-old has scored two con­sec­u­tive sev­enth place fin­ishes.

Tom Wood­burn will con­tinue in the nav­i­ga­tor’s seat af­ter join­ing Yates part-way through his 2015 cam­paign. ● En­tries for Bri­tain’s round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship – Wales Rally GB – are open. The event – vis­it­ing Eng­land for the first time since 1999 – opened its en­tries on Au­gust 24. They close on Septem­ber 27. En­tries for the na­tional rally open to­day (Au­gust 31).

If you take a look to your left you’ll read about David Guest and his win­ning the Ir­ish Tar­mac Cham­pi­onship’s Group N cat­e­gory. Congratulations David.

What I can’t un­der­stand is where have all the Group Ns gone?

This year we’ve seen Matt Ed­wards de­stroy the BRC2 field for Group N cars in the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship, usu­ally be­cause he was the only en­trant. But his ex­ploits in the over­all or­der – with two sev­enth placed fin­ishes – in a car he built him­self were sim­ply im­mac­u­late.

These two driv­ers have that in com­mon; they were both rel­a­tively alone in their classes but found ways to im­press.

A look abroad and there are signs that Group Ns can make noise there too. While WRC’S Pro­duc­tion class has pe­tered out, Wo­j­ciech Chuchala has launched him­self onto the Euro­pean scene with some ex­cel­lent per­for­mances in his bog stan­dard Subaru Im­preza. He leads the ERC2 cham­pi­onship.

Hon­estly, it’s be­yond me why more young driv­ers don’t take up Group N cars. They’re cheaper than R2s, and teach you how to drive a four-wheel-drive car. In­deed if you can pedal a Group N quickly, the step up to an R5 isn’t as dras­tic. Just ask Alexey Lukyanuk, who won an ERC round out­right in 2015 and stepped up to an R5 this year. He’s in­stantly been at the front of the or­der (be­fore crash­ing con­sis­tently, any­way).

Some of my favourite per­for­mances, this year and last, have come from Group Ns. In­deed, any of the BTRDA N4 bat­tles be­tween Russ Thomp­son, Pat Nay­lor, Tom Naughton and Aaron Mcclure over the past year or two have been fan­tas­tic. Ed­wards’ gi­ant-killing per­for­mance in Mid Wales, the BRC opener, af­ter fin­ish­ing the car in his garage a night or two be­fore the event was just fan­tas­tic.

The lack of Group Ns is part of a grow­ing cul­ture of short­cut­ting in ju­nior for­mu­lae, not just in ral­ly­ing but in rac­ing, too. We see driv­ers come out of kart­ing and make colos­sal steps to­wards Euro­pean F3 or F4 or the likes of.

While chat­ting to David Hig­gins at Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional, Hig­gins made it known that he felt young driv­ers shouldn’t miss out Group N.

Ral­ly­ing is dif­fer­ent to cir­cuit rac­ing for young­sters. It takes longer to reach the top of the sport, whether that be at in­ter­na­tional or na­tional level. More time on pacenotes, tyre choice and pre­dict­ing sur­faces is needed to reach the top. Look at Kris Meeke, com­ing into his own as one of the sport’s best in the sec­ond half of his 30s.

The point be­ing, es­sen­tially, that young driv­ers need that ex­tra time to per­fect notes and learn their craft. Group N is an ex­cel­lent way to learn the ropes of four-wheel-drive ral­ly­ing on a rel­a­tively ac­cept­able bud­get. Young driv­ers take heed. Spend that ex­tra year learn­ing.

Ed­wards got R5 shot af­ter im­press­ing in Group N

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