Rhys Yates wins WRC Esports Shootout
Motorsport UK Team UK member Rhys Yates came out on top of the Esports WRC Shootout against a whole pack of hungry WRC2 drivers including Pierre-Louis Loubet, Adrien Fourmaux, Ole Christian Veiby and Oliver Solberg.
More accustomed to driving an R5 in WRC 2 for M-Sport Ford, Rhys Yates has quickly adapted to sim racing, claiming victory in the eSports WRC Final on Thursday night, in a final witnessed by tens of thousands around the globe.
Taking on Bolivia’s Marco Bulacia in the Final, it was fair to say that the Brit was carrying the underdog tag, especially after beginning the week with an “L” plate on the back of his WRC Playseat.
With the drivers required to drive two Rally Argentina stages in the Final, the first challenge was Cuchilla Nevada, a stage both had previously familiarised themselves with in the Qualifiers. However, Bulacia would not be experiencing the same joy he had in his previous journey there, a spin costing him dearly as a neck-and-neck race turned into a seven-second advantage for Yates.
The second stage of the Final saw a return to the sight of the Semi-Finals, the world-famous El Condor. The nerves of the moment were showing in both drivers with uncharacteristic errors slipping into their drives, particularly for Bulacia who was driving hard to make up the seven-second difference.
Ultimately, the gap would prove too much to make up and it was Yates recording a second stage victory and claiming the overall plaudits. The keen tea drinker found a unique way to celebrate, taking a victory ‘brew’ from his shoe.
“I knew if I was going to have a chance to win the eSports WRC Shootout, I’d have to put some time in. And I knew I’d have to get hold of a simulator,” explained Yates.
“I put aside a couple of hours each day in the run up to the qualifying round, but I’ve got to be honest, I couldn’t get to grips with the sim. The handbrake wasn’t working and I wasn’t happy with it. For qualifying, I went with the hand controller.
“After I got through, dad and I went to the workshop and did a bit of an engineering job on the sim rig. We made a couple of brackets and got everything a bit more comfortable. After that, I focused on driving with the wheel and things started to get better and better.
“In the early rounds, the idea was to set the best possible time, so I was pushing really hard. A few times I’d be on for a cracking time and sitting their thinking ‘this is it Rhys, you’ve nailed it’, only to touch a bump and go off or run wide. So frustrating!
“Honestly, the PS4 nearly went out the window a few times. But instead, I pushed the reset button and got on with it again. For the final, it was a change of approach. The final was head-to-head and run live, so it was vital to get to the end, trading a bit of consistency for outright speed.
“It’s great to have won the eSports WRC Shootout and I’m definitely taking my gaming a bit more serious now. It’s also good to have worked with WRC Promoter and given rally fans out there something to watch over the last week. And, of course, I’m really happy to have won for M-Sport Ford. And as for my brother’s idea of celebrating with a ‘shoey’… that seemed like a good idea at the time!”
Additional reporting by wrc.com