On to the main purpose of the year, The MSA British Rally Championship and the Mid Wales Stages.
The strategy was to achieve a podium. My confidence was low after the accident and it was important to get a solid finish and get the championship underway on a positive note.
The recce became a challenge in itself, keeping my trusty Subaru forester recce car on the road in a straight line thanks to a thick layer of snow and ice which adorned the stages. It made the recce a challenge for the crews who were in 2wd recce cars who found themselves stuck very frequently which sadly slowed the whole convoy. But thankfully the conditions warmed up in the afternoon and we completed the recce without ending up in a ditch or any tow rope in site.
We completed a test at Higgins Rally School in Carno mid Wales that evening, after the recce. This became very beneficial to us. Because the conditions were shockingly bad, we gave the car a good shakedown, played around with lights for the night stages on the Saturday and made few minor suspension changes to suit the slippy conditions.
The first loop of stages on Saturday started very well, posting a 3rd fastest time on stage 1 & then followed by 4th fastest on stage 2, even driving out of the stage on a rear left puncture for 4 miles! Which I was very surprised with..
We fought with David Bogie on Sunday for 3rd place, we managed to hold him off and recorded a very satisfying 3rd place with a strong points haul.
Next up is the Circuit of Ireland – fantastic stages few we’ve driven before on Ulster Rally 2012, Torr head stage known as Ballymena this year is personal favourite of mine.
Thanks for reading,
The intentions for the pre-season outing on the Red Kite were to build a working relationship with new co driver for 2016, James Morgan. Also we needed to gather data from the car with regards of setup of diff settings in preparation for the Mid Wales Stages. Spencer Sport were new to the Fiesta R5 it gave the lads & team time to bond with car and get to know how it works. They’ve had R5 experience with running the unique Mitsubishi Mirage R5 on national events over the last 12 months or so.
A mile into stage 1, unexpectedly the car dictated a change of direction very aggressively and we went off the road at 120kph backwards down a 250ft ravine. The car rolled more times than I could count and we fortunately and violently came to an abrupt end which felt like a entirety rolling down the hill bouncing off the trees. I remember Jari Matti Latvala’s accident at Rally Portugal 2009 when he crashed in the Focus WRC and rolled down the mountainside and you just can’t comprehend something like that till it happens to you. It’s not a feeling I wouldn’t want to wish upon anyone and never want to experience again.
It took nearly 48 hours to recover the car. It was clearly going to be extensively damaged.
But amazingly, it was repairable in time for the Mid Wales Stages, some 11 days later. I personally would like to thank the M-Sport & Spencer Sport technicians and also Dave Jenkins Motorsport who spent all weekend nonstop painting the car after the car returned from the body shop at M-Sport.
Welcome to the first ever Tom Cave blog!
So we started off the year not knowing whether I would be competing at all this year. There simply weren’t any real offers on the table. Of course, I had the option of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy but I really didn’t see the benefit for me of staying in that series for another year.
I wanted to be in a R5 car for 2016 but things were looking bleak.
However, low and behold an opportunity raised its head during the week leading up the Autosport Show.
Spencer Sport, who is a family concern based in Llandysul West Wales wanted me in a R5 Fiesta EVO in the new-look BRC which was now attracting attention from around the world.
They were fortunate enough to have a excellent tyre deal on the table with Michelin all we needed was a car…
A deal was struck with M-Sport World Rally Team and we got our hands on Elfyn Evans’ Sweden winning WRC2 Fiesta R5 EVO. It was game on.
Tom Cave and co-driver James Morgan got their MSA British Rally Championship title hopes off to a flying start this weekend (5th & 6th March), when they finished the first of this season’s seven rounds – the Mid Wales Stages – in an impressive third place. Driving the Spencer Sport prepared, Trefeddian Hotel supported Ford Fiesta R5, they overcame the difficult conditions to claim a well-deserved podium position in an event that hearalded the start of a new era for the BRC.
Following the accident on the Red Kite Stages two weeks ago, when the Fiesta was extensively damaged, the Spencer Sport and M-Sport teams worked tirelessly to rebuild the car in readiness for this weekend’s event. After a quick shakedown on Thursday evening and, seeded fourth of the 66 crews on the rally, Tom and James were poised to start their British Rally Championship campaign.
However, it was clear during Friday’s recce that the snowfall leading up to the rally together with the icy conditions were going to make things interesting – especially as the first of the Newtown-based event’s two stages on Saturday evening took place in the dark. Making the task even more challenging was the quality of the field, where the best of British – and some overseas – crews would be competing in similar four-wheel-drive machinery.
A copybook start through stage one saw Tom and James begin how they were to finish – in third place. But then a rear puncture on stage two meant they returned to Newtown for the overnight halt in fourth.
Determined to make up the deficit, they headed off for Sunday’s four stages to find that the wintery conditions were still prevalent on higher ground. Straight away, Tom and James were on the pace and set another third-fastest time, which elevated them back to third place on the BRC time sheets.
With this their first season together, Tom and James’ partnership was quickly developing. So much so, they went on to deliver a consistent performance by setting the third-fastest time on the remaining three stages and, in doing so, assured themselves a place on the podium. Elfyn Evans won the rally, with Fredrik Ahlin in second – both regular competitors in the WRC and also driving Fiesta R5s.
“We were aiming to finish on the podium this weekend and that’s exactly what we did”, said Tom at the finish. “After the accident a couple of weeks ago, to claim third place in the first round of the new BRC and with so many top competitors taking part, is a great feeling.
“As the rally went on, things really started to gel between James and I and this added to our pace. The Fiesta ran faultlessly and I must thank Spencer Sport and M-Sport for getting it fixed in such a short space of time. This has been a fantastic start to the season for us.”
Tom’s next event will be the second round of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Belfast-based Circuit of Ireland Rally, which takes place on 8th & 9th April and represents the first asphalt encounter of the season.
Spencer Sport is preparing to launch its assault on the first round of the MSA British Rally Championship – the Mid Wales Stages – which takes place this coming weekend, 5th & 6th March.
Spencer Sport’s cars and crews are:
- Tom Cave (Aberdovey)/James Morgan (Hirwaun): Ford Fiesta R5 (BRC 1 Class)
- Osian Pryce (Machynlleth) /Dale Furniss (Llanfyllin): Mitsubishi Mirage R5 (BRC B Category)
- Jamie Jukes (Llandysul)/Dave Williams (Mold): Mitsubishi Mirage R5 (BRC B Category)
- Robert Blomberg (Trollhättan)/Lars Andersson (Trollhättan): Mitsubishi Mirage R5 (BRC B Category)
It’s been a race against time for the Spencer Sport team following the first outing for it’s new Fiesta, after the car plunged off the road and rolled down a bank whilst Tom Cave and James Morgan were on the first stage of the Red Kite Rally last Sunday-week. Whilst both crew members walked away relatively unscathed, the Fiesta has needed major surgery and, after recovering the car the very next day, the Spencer Sport team has worked tirelessly to repair much of the body damage before the car was sent to M-Sport on Sunday. It is now being fully restored in readiness for this weekend’s event.
Tom and James will start as car #4 in the BRC 1 category and are labeled as one of the front-runners in the battle for this year’s British title.
“It’s great to be part of the new-look BRC, with a competitive car and a strong team behind us – plus, it’s even better that the season starts with the Mid Wales Stages, a relatively local event for me”, said Tom. “I have to admit that, after what happened on the Red Kite Stages we’ve had a difficult few days, but James and I have put that behind us now and intend to start next weekend’s event aiming to win – as we always do. The team have been working really hard to get the Fiesta ready and I’m confident that, as soon as we’re in the car, things will click straight back into place.”
Osian Pryce has admitted he is excited by the prospect of getting back into an R5 specification Mitsubishi Mirage after being one of Spencer Sport’s test drivers last year. Together with his regular co-driver Dale Furniss, the Welsh pair have been seeded #1 in the BRCB (National) category and will be driving the same car that was used by three-times Finnish Rally Champion Jari Ketomaa to score fourth place in the snowy conditions of the Vaakuna Rally in Finland last weekend.
“It’s good to be back in the Mitsubishi” said Osian. “After testing it and then being unable to finish the Cambrian Rally last year, I feel I have some unfinished business to attend to. The car is fantastic to drive so I must admit that I’ve not looked forward to a rally as much as this for a long time and I’m determined to do the best job I can.”
Fresh from their impressive performance on the Red Kite Stages when they finished fourth overall, Jamie Jukes and Dave Williams are also looking forward to getting back in their Mitsubishi. Running three cars behind their teammates in the BRC B category, they are hoping to continue from where they left off in what is Jamie’s first full season in a four-wheel-drive car.
“Moving from a two-wheel-drive car to the R5 specification Mitsubishi is quite a step for me, so I was very pleased with the way things went on the Red Kite Rally”, explained Jamie. “The Mirage is such a great car to drive and, if we have a good clean run, I think we should be in with a chance of a podium in the BRC B category – albeit we don’t expect to be on the pace of our teammates!”
Spencer Sport, in conjunction with Mpart AB – the Swedish company responsible for designing and building the R5 Specification Mitsubishis – will be looking after a third Mirage on the event, the O’Leary’s Sports Bar supported car driven by Robert Blomberg with co-driver Lars Andersson. The Swedish pairing will start from #2 in the BRC B category.
The Mid Wales Stages starts and finishes in Newtown and features two stages on Saturday evening with a further four on Sunday, which combined, provide a competitive distance of 69-miles.
The Spencer Sport team is supported by: Spencer ECA, Michelin tyres, the Trefeddian Hotel, Oil 4 Wales, Reeds Construction & Engineering, Speedline Wheels, PIAA lights and Rugbi Industrial Supplies.