Tom Cave and James Morgan and the New Generation Hyundai i20 R5 once again proved they are capable of winning a Prestone MSA British Rally Championship round, when they led the RSAC Scottish Rally during the early stages of the event. Having driven a perfectly judged first leg, they accrued a 9.9-second advantage on Friday evening only to retire on Saturday morning when the car lost a wheel on stage three.
Following their front-running pace in their first outing in the car on last month’s Carlisle-based Pirelli Rally, it was confirmed that Tom and James would drive a New Generation i20 R5 on this weekend’s third round of the British Rally Championship.
The Scottish Rally started in Dumfries, featured a service park based near Lockerbie and finished in Moffat. The route comprised a total of 75 competitive miles split into 10 stages, all taking place over the gravel roads in the nearby Ae and Eskdalemuir Forests.
The competition began with two stages on Friday evening. Impressively, as they had done on the previous Pirelli Rally, Tom and James were quickest out of the blocks and set the fastest time through stage one – an 8.8-mile run in wet and slippery conditions. Consequently, they headed into stage two – a re-run of the first – with a 4.5 second lead and, even with the road surface rougher and more challenging, they were fastest again and extended their lead to 9.9 seconds before the overnight halt.
With everything going according to plan and the car handling perfectly on its DMACK tyres over the unpredictable road surface, the strategy for the first of the eight stages on Saturday was to continue to push and extend their advantage. Split times in SS3 showed Tom and James were faster than their rival by a handful of seconds as they got closer to the end of the nine-mile stage.
But then, when negotiating a left-hander, Tom felt what he thought was a right-rear puncture. It soon became apparent that the car had lost a wheel and, although continuing to the end of the stage, it was clear the rally was over for the two Welshmen.
“It’s such a shame, as everything was going perfectly and exactly as planned up to that point”, explained Tom. “The car felt great and I am confident that we could have maintained our pace throughout the rally.
“Even though we didn’t finish, we take away a lot of positives from this event. It’s certainly reassuring to know that every time we’ve completed a stage in the Hyundai, we’ve won it! I therefore hope to be driving the car again soon and proving that together, we’re a winning combination.”
Further news regarding Tom and James’ next outing in the New Generation Hyundai i20 R5 will be announced shortly.
Tom’s 2017 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: the Trefeddian Hotel, DMACK Tyres, Walero UK and Atech Racing.
Cave’s front-running performance on Pirelli Rally leads to Scottish Rally outing in New Generation Hyundai i20 R5
In the opening stages of this weekend’s Pirelli Rally, the second round of the 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, Tom Cave and co-driver James Morgan showed what both they and the New Generation Hyundai i20 R5 are capable of. Against stiff opposition, they led the rally by 7.5 seconds after two stages, only to have their event cut short on SS3.
Following a successful first drive in the Hyundai during a pre-rally test on Thursday, the scene was set for a promising BRC debut for the car.
The Pirelli Rally featured four stages on Saturday afternoon, followed by a further four on Sunday, all of them taking place over the infamous gravel roads in Kielder Forest.
From the word go, it was clear that Tom, James and the i20 R5 were going to be a force to be reckoned with, when they set the fastest time on the first stage by 0.1 second ahead of round one winners Fredrik Ählin/Torstien Eriksen. It was a perfect start and, feeling confident with the way the car was performing, Tom and James underlined their stage one performance by winning stage two by a margin of 7.4 seconds.
With a 7.5 second lead as they booked in to the remote service halt after SS2, Tom commented there was more to come as he headed into SS3 with every intention of increasing the advantage. The first eight kms of the stage went exceptionally well, but then, Tom felt a change at the rear of the car.
Aware that something was wrong, he was forced to bring the car to a halt on the stage. Although there was little damage the problem was serious enough to put them out for the day. Once back at service the team decided that, as the opportunity for achieving a top result was over, and with the same car due to compete at another rally next weekend, they would not restart on day 2 and instead would begin work, with Hyundai Motorsport, to diagnose things in more detail.
Whilst the Pirelli Rally didn’t provide the perfect outcome for the team, the potential of the car and crew was unquestionable. Consequently, it has been confirmed that Tom will drive a New Generation Hyundai i20 R5 on the forthcoming Dumfries-based Scottish Rally, the third round of the British Rally Championship that takes place on 19th & 20th May.
“Following our performance on the Pirelli, I’m delighted that we now have another chance of showing what we can do in the Hyundai”, said Tom. “It was clear from the first two stages this weekend that the car has the potential to win, so I hope we will be able to follow on from where we left off when we get to Scotland in a few weeks time.”