Impressive performance in Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage on Nicky Grist Stages sees Tom back on the pace from the word go
Tom Cave and James Morgan showed they had lost none of their former pace, when they recorded the fastest time on the first of eight stages on Saturday’s (14th July) Nicky Grist Stages Rally. Following a day long battle for the lead, they went on to cross the line in second place. But having reached the finish, their convincing podium position was denied when, due to an admin oversight by the co-driver, the Welsh pair were disqualified for infringing an event regulation.
After a successful test in the Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage last week, Tom was more than ready to make his return to the stages in a R5 specification car following a nine-month sabbatical since he and James finished third in the WRC2 category in October’s Wales Rally GB.
Saturday’s event featured a loop of four stages on the gravel roads on and around the Epynt Military Ranges in the morning, followed by the same loop of four in the afternoon. Seeded at number one, things started perfectly for Tom and James. In the dry and dusty conditions, they set the fastest time on the opening stage and consequently led the rally by two seconds, ahead of current British Rally Championship leaders Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod in a Fiesta R5.
During the following three stages before the lunch time service halt at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, Tom and James delivered another first and two second-fastest times, which enabled them to maintain their lead by two seconds at the half-way point. Following a quick check around the car by the Spencer Sport team, they embarked on the afternoon’s four stages and, like the weather, the battle between them and their main rivals got even hotter.
In fact, on stage five both crews set exactly the same time, four seconds faster than anyone else. Still with a two-second advantage, Tom knew it would be flat to the finish and, although he and James pushed as hard as they could through the remaining three stages, they could not hold off Edwards/Garrod who fought back to take the win.
But on returning to Builth Wells, unknowingly Tom and James found that they had contravened an event regulation due to a rare co-driver error and were consequently disqualified from the results. Although a conclusion they and the team would not have wished for, Tom and James were pleased they had been able to get straight back to a front-running pace. The team were also happy that the stage times clearly proved the Mitsubishi Mirage was a match for any other R5 class car.
“Whilst the final outcome was of course, not what we had wanted, rallying is a complicated sport with lots of rules and regulations, so these things can and do happen”, said Tom at the finish.
“It was great to be back in an R5 specification car alongside James who did his usual great job on the notes. And to be straight back on the pace right from the start was very reassuring to us both.
“The Mirage has really progressed into a competitive car and the stage times prove it. It’s great to drive and I hope I have the opportunity to enter another event with it soon.
“I have to thank everyone involved who made this event happen for us: Spencer Sport, Spencer ECA, DMACK Tyres, Nicky Grist Motorsport, Walero Racewear, Atech Racing and the team’s sponsors: Oil for Wales, Speedline Wheels, Motul Lubricants and Sea & Slate.”
Further news about Tom’s next event will be announced soon.
Photo: JMS Photographic
Tom Cave and co-driver James Morgan have been announced as the number one seeds for this Saturday’s (14th July) Nicky Grist Stages Rally, when they will compete in an R5 specification Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage.
The event will see the Welsh pair back in action for the first time since last October’s Wales Rally GB, when they finished an impressive third in the WRC2 category driving a Fiesta R5. With 2018 year of consolidation for Tom, he is relishing a return to the hot seat:
“As plans didn’t quite come together in time for the start of the season, I’m only intending to enter a few rallies in 2018. I’m therefore grateful to Spencer Sport for giving me an opportunity to get back out there and keep my hand in. Of course, I’ve worked with Spencer Sport before when we finished second in the British Rally Championship in 2016. It was a great team effort. Having led the event at one point, we also finished second on the Nicky Grist Stages in that year behind Elfyn Evans.”
Tom is mindful that with a 120-strong field, a number of previous event winners and crews in WRC cars taking part, it’s not going to be easy to score a top result and says he will have a better idea of what’s in store after he has tested the Mitsubishi on Thursday (12th July):
“I’ve driven the Mirage before but only in testing, so it’s great to now have the chance to compete in it too. I know there’s been a number of upgrades since I drove it last, so I’m looking forward to finding out what it’s like now, especially on a rally like the Nicky Grist Stages.”
The event represents round six of the BTRDA Rally Series and gets underway at 09.00 on Saturday from the centre of Builth Wells. The route incorporates the gravel roads and forests around the Epynt military ranges on the Brecon Beacons and features a loop of four timed special stages in the morning followed by a repeat run in the afternoon.
Tom’s Nicky Grist Stages outing is supported by: Spencer Sport, Spencer ECA, Nicky Grist Motorsport, DMack Tyres, Walero and Atech.
Tom Cave from Aberdovey, together with his co-driver James Morgan from Hirwaun, scored an impressive third-place finish in the fiercely contested WRC2 category on this year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. After three days of competition in the forests of Mid and North Wales, driving their Dom Buckley RSC prepared and M-Sport built Ford Fiesta R5, they crossed the finish line in Llandudno yesterday (Sunday 29th October) afternoon to claim their second podium position in as many FIA World Rally Championship events.
The rally started from the centre of Chester on Thursday evening and, to get proceedings off to a spectacular start, a short spectator stage watched by 1000s of fans was held at the Tir Prince leisure park and trotting track near Rhyl. But it was Friday when the real rally action began, kicking off with three classic stages in mid-Wales: Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren.
In the autumn sunshine – a welcome feature on this annual event – a strong run through the first loop saw Tom and James fourth in WRC2 and lying 17th overall after SS4. Then, on SS5 they moved up a place – even though they had a scare when the car’s engine cut out momentarily at the end of the stage. They consolidated their position over the day’s remaining two stages and, when they returned to the Deeside service park that evening, they were 46.4s behind already crowned 2017 WRC2 Champion Pontus Tidemand in a Skoda and only 3.3s away from Frenchman Eric Camilli in second place.
Saturday morning featured a loop of four stages, this time in the equally as classic north-Wales forests of Aberhinrnant, Dyfnant, Gartheineog and Dyfi – all of them Tom regarding as local rally territory. With mist and drizzle greeting crews, conditions were certainly different than that of the day before and consequently, with far less traction available, Tom thought he was off the pace – only to find that everyone else was experiencing similar issues. In fact, he and James were in the ascendancy and went ahead of Camilli on stage 11, the first run through Dyfi and then went on to set the fastest WRC2 time in SS13 – the second run through the same 25.86km stage.
The day of intense forest action was punctuated with a 1.8km blast in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle on the park’s asphalt roads – another stage designed to for the less hardcore rally fan. Following brief check and refuel at Deeside, it was then back to the forests for a second run through Aberhirnant and Dyfnant, but this time in the dark.
However the weather had changed and thick fog – sometimes cutting visibility to less than 10m – led Tom to report it was possibly the worst stage he had ever driven! The second stage was clear, but it had meant that time was lost to Tidemand who had had a clear run and was now 1m 43s ahead, with Camilli remaining seven seconds behind the Welsh pair when competitors returned to Deeside for the overnight halt.
With little chance of catching the Swedish team, consolidation was the order of the day for Sunday’s four stages: Alwen, Brenig and Gwydir, followed by a second longer run and through Brenig as the final ‘Power’ stage. But with Tom reporting the handling of the car felt different that it had done on Friday and Saturday, Camilli edged past on the 19th and penultimate stage. Try as they might, Tom and James could not retrieve the difference, but both were delighted they had achieved what they had set out to do, the final result seeing them finish 3rd in WRC2 category and 13th in the event overall.
“That’s mission accomplished’, said Tom as he and James lined up in Llandudno High Street before crossing the finish ramp. “We came here looking to end the season on a high, so to score a WRC2 podium in the two WRC events we’ve entered this year’s is fantastic, especially against world-class drivers that have factory support. It’s as much as we could have hoped for and I’m over the moon with the result.
“It’s even more rewarding to do it on your local event. The fans were out on mass and it was great to see so much support. Of course, it was fantastic day for Welsh rallying and I must congratulate Elfyn Evans and his co-driver Daniel Barrit for claiming their first WRC victory – and what a place to do it! Congratulations also go to M-Sport (the team that builds the Fiestas) for securing both the World manufacturers’ and Drivers’ title on this event.
“As well as thanking the fans for cheering us on, I must also thank everyone who supported me. Firstly, to James for doing yet another fantastic job from the other seat; to Dom Buckley RSC for providing us with such a such a well prepared car; to DMACK for supplying tyres that not only helped us get onto the WRC2 podium, but enabled Elfyn to claim his outright win; to Walero for supplying the extremely effective temperature controlling base-layers; to Atech Racing for the top quality racewear and to the Trefeddian Hotel in Aberdovey.”
Determined to do the best he can on his home FIA World Rally Championship event, Aberdovey-based rally driver Tom Cave has been meticulously preparing for next week’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. His focus of attention will be firmly fixed on the highly competitive WRC2 category, a class that sees many of the world’s leading young drivers compete in R5 specification cars in their quest to secure a WRC seat.
“It looks like all of the forests we’ll be visiting on Rally GB I’ve driven before when they’ve been used on a national-status rally. In fact, looking at the route, one of the stages runs less than 10 miles away from where I live! However, you can never be complacent, as the conditions at this time of year can change extremely quickly. I therefore have to be sure I’m on the top of my game next week.”
In order to get acquainted to the new Dom Buckley RSC prepared Ford Fiesta R5 he’ll be using for this year’s Rally GB, Tom has just completed two full-day’s of testing: one in Carno Forest in north Wales and the other at the Sweet Lamb complex in mid-Wales.
“The weather was horrendous. It rained continuously during the first day of testing and then ‘Storm Brian’ did its worst during the second. I don’t think that in all my eight years of rallying, I’ve ever driven in conditions like that. While it was great preparation for what might happen on the rally, thankfully the forecast is looking dryer, which will be so much better for the spectators, marshals and organisers.
“Even though it was wet and slippery during the test, the car felt great. The latest version of the Fiesta is definitely an improvement on the previous one. It felt sharper and more responsive. The engine is stronger too. I must admit that having driven the Hyundai i20 R5 earlier this year, I was wondering what the latest Fiesta was like in comparison and M-Sport have obviously done a great job since the last time I drove one of their cars.
“So, with the Fiesta inspiring confidence, my regular co-driver James Morgan beside me, the rally using roads I’ve driven before and, having worked with the Dom Buckely RSC team previously, I’m feeling as ready as I can be at this point before the event. As I’ve said before, having been beaten by a Finn in Finland, I’m looking to turn the tables here in Wales. Bring it on!”
The Dayinsure Wales Rally GB represents the penultimate round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship. It commences on Thursday (26th) evening with a spectator stage at Tir Prince on the Flintshire coast. Friday sees six stages in mid Wales, followed by a further six stages in the north Wales forests – plus a spectator stage at Cholmondley Castle – on Saturday.
Sunday sees the route remain in north Wales and features another five stages before the ceremonial finish in Llandudno. All of the event’s service halts take place at Deeside Industrial Park.
Tom’s personal details
Date of birth (age): 16th November 1991 (25)
Home Town: Aberdovey, Wales
Occupation: Hotel Management
Interests outside of motorsport: Keeping fit, Golf, Rugby, Tennis, running, cars
Co-driver: James Morgan from Hirwaun
Tom’s Rally GB stats
Entered for the first time in 2008 driving a Fiesta ST – five days after passing driving test – and won the class by 15-minutes
This year will be seventh time on Rally GB
Third time driving Fiesta R5 on the event (previously in 2013 & 2014)
Best result: 12th overall, 2nd SWRC (2012), including six fastest stage times in class
Have driven every forest stage featured in this year’s rally and won the national rally that has previously used the same route
Tom will take part in next month’s Wales Rally GB, the UK round of the FIA World Rally Championship. With much of the event’s competitive mileage taking place in the north Wales forests, many of the stages represent familiar territory to Tom, who will be contesting this world championship qualifier for the fifth time.
Having impressed when driving a Hyundai i20 R5 earlier this year by leading various rounds of the British Rally Championship and finishing third in the WRC2 category on Neste Rally Finland, the talented 25-year old will return to a Ford Fiesta R5 for Rally GB. Tom has driven a similar car on the event twice before andhe finished second behind the wheel of an R5 Fiesta in the MSA British Rally Championship last year.
“After a season that promised so much, I am eager to round off my year by competing in my home world championship event against some of the best R5 class drivers there is”, explains Tom. “My most recent event was Rally Finland and, after finishing third in WRC2 and with a Finnish driver winning the class, I really want to see if I can turn the tables in Wales.”
Tom will be partnered on Rally GB by his regular co-driver and fellow Welshman James Morgan from Hirwaun, who also brings with him a wealth of experience when if comes to his home country’s forests. The car Tom will be using will be a brand new, latest specification Fiesta R5, prepared and run by Dom Buckley RSC – a team that Tom has worked with on previous occasions.
“I really enjoy competing in the Welsh forests, not just because they are close to where I live, but the stages are fantastic – some of the best in the world – and when you get them right, there’s nowhere that gives you the same buzz. So, with an area, a car, co-driver and team that’s familiar to me, I’m hoping it’s going to be a successful combination.”
The Wales Rally GB takes place from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th October and represents the penultimate round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship. The event commences on Thursday evening with a spectator stage at Tir Prince on the Flintshire coast, followed by six stages in mid Wales on Friday.
Saturday’s itinerary features six stages in the north Wales forests, plus a spectator stage at Cholmondley Castle. Sunday’s route continues the competition in north Wales and features another five stages before the ceremonial finish in Llandudno. As it has done in recent years, all of the event’s service halts take place at Deeside.
Tom Cave and co-driver James Morgan achieved what they set out to do in this weekend’s Neste Rally Finland – and that was to finish on the WRC2 Class podium. Driving a New Generation Hyundai i20 R5, they also claimed a credible 15th place overall in the event that represented the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Having competed in Finland twice before when contesting the DMACK Drive Trophy in a two-wheel-drive car – and winning the series there in 2015 – Tom was pleased to have secured the opportunity to drive a more powerful four-wheel-drive machine this time around. Tom from Aberdovey and James from Hirwaun completed two days of successful testing in the car, which is owned and run by Sarrazin Motorsport, earlier this week.
The official pre-event shakedown on Thursday morning also went well and consequently, everything was set for the start of the rally in Jyväskylä and the first stage – a short spectator-friendly affair the town’s central park – that evening. With the opening test completed, the rally restarted on Friday morning with 12 more traditional-style Finnish forest stages to the west and north of the town.
Not completely at-one with the feel of the car on the gravel roads that were made unpredictable due to the morning’s rain, Tom and James were to follow a calculated game plan that saw them 6th in WRC2 and 21st overall at the lunch time service halt. A few adjustments and a fresh set of Dmack tyres made a significant difference in the afternoon, but just as the Welshmen began to charge, five kilometres into SS10 they encountered a minor brake problem.
By using the gears and a considerable amount of skill, Tom managed to get the car to the end of the stage, where he and James were able to effect repairs and get more braking force into the system. Remarkably, although off the front-running pace, they only dropped around a minute through the remaining three stages and consequently maintained their position.
Once back in the service park, the team found and fixed the issue. It was therefore business as usual for Saturday’s eight stages and, having driven all of them before including the classic Ouninpohja stage that was tackled once in the morning and again in the afternoon, Tom admitted he was looking forward to what lay in store.
His positive approach to the day’s proceedings was soon rewarded when, following the Ouninpohja stage – the third of the day – he and James emerged third of the WRC2 runners and 17th overall. Following a further push in the afternoon, it was clear that the time previously lost was unlikely to be gained against the Finnish driver Jari Huttunen in first and Frenchman Quentin Gilbert in second.
So, for Sunday’s four stages, consolidation was the name of the game and, with Gilbert now over a minute ahead and Welsh compatriot and British Championship sparring partner Osian Pryce over two minutes behind in fourth, the focus of attention for Tom and James was to ensure they brought the Hyundai home in a podium position. And that’s exactly what they did.
As they drove over the finish ramp in front of 1000s of spectators in the centre of Jyväskylä under the Baltic summer sunshine on Sunday afternoon, the realization of what they had achieved finally sunk in:
“While this is one of my favourite rallies and includes some of my favourite stages, it’s still a really tough event. So, with a car that was new to us and with the Hyundai i20 R5 making its debut to this event, I’m extremely pleased with the result.
“WRC2 is the highest and most competitive category for R5 cars in the world. So, to get to the finish having overcome the issues we had during the event, I feel very proud to come away with third in WRC2, finish15th overall and to have given the i20 R5 its best result in a WRC round so far.
“My motto is: ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ and that phrase has never been more appropriate. I would therefore like to thank all the people and organisations involved for giving us the opportunity to compete in Finland and achieve this result: Dmack Tyres, the Trefeddian Hotel, Atech Racing, Walero Motorsports and Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing.
“I must also congratulate the Rally Finland organisers for putting on such a good event, plus I have to thank the Sarrazin Motorsport team for their hard work and of course, James, who has done far more than just co-drive this past few days.”
Further news regarding Tom’s 2017 motorsport campaign will be announced before the end of August.
NESTE RALLY FINLAND WRC2 FINAL RESULTS
1. Jari Huttunen/Antti Linnaketo FIN/FIN SKODA: 2:39:30.9
2. Quentin Gilbert/Renaud Jamoul FRA/BEL SKODA: 2:41:48.7
3. Tom Cave/James Morgan GBR/GBR HYUNDAI: 2:43:13.9
4. Osian Pryce/Dale Furniss GBR/GBR FORD: 2:45:39.6
5. Simone Tempestini/Giovanni Bernacchini ROU/ITA CITROEN: 2:47:27.1
6. Raul Jeets Kuldar Sikk EST/EST SKODA: 2:51:36.2
7. Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais FRA/FRA FORD: 3:09:11.4
8. Fergus Greensmith/Craig Parry GBR/GBR FORD: 3:09:30.5
9. Juuso Nordgren/Mikael Korhonen FIN/FIN SKODA: 3:31:27.1
10. Umberto Scandola/Michele Ferrara ITA/ITA SKODA: 3:34:00.9
British rally driver Tom Cave is currently preparing to contest his biggest event of the season so far, when he enters this year’s Neste Rally Finland (27 – 30 July), round nine of the FIA World Rally Championship. Together with his regular co-driver James Morgan, the Welsh pair will be competing for honours in the WRC2 category driving a Hyundai i20 R5.
Having entered three rounds of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship earlier this season, Finland marks the fourth outing for Tom (from Aberdovey) and James (from Hirwaun) in an i20 and represents their first WRC round in the car. Whilst Tom has competed on the event twice before – the last time in 2015 when he won the DMACK Drive Trophy – this will be his first time driving a four-wheel-drive car.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to pull things together to be able to enter Rally Finland. It’s one of the world’s classic events and, having gone well there previously in a two-wheel-drive car, I’m so looking forward to have the opportunity of driving the i20 this time.”
The car Tom will be driving is a brand new New Generation Hyundai i20 R5. It is owned and prepared by Sarrazin Motorsport, who will be supporting Tom on the event.
“As I haven’t driven this particular i20 before, I’m carrying out two days of testing on Sunday and Monday (23rd & 24th) on two different types of road – one with jumps and long straights for which the rally is so well known and the other with fast and flowing corners. I want to be as prepared as I can possibly be for this rally. We will be competing in the WRC2 category and to do well at this level will mean a great deal to me. It’s a very exciting prospect.”
Following the two days of testing, Tom and James will recce the stages on Tuesday and Wednesday, before taking part in the pre-event shakedown on Thursday morning. The rally begins with the Ceremonial Start in Jyväskylä that evening, followed by a short spectator stage.
The event then heads to the forests for 12 stages on Friday, a further eight on Saturday and four on Sunday. Combined, the rally’s 25 stages provide a competitive distance of 315kms.
Tom’s Rally Finland campaign is supported by: the Trefeddian Hotel, DMACK Tyres, Walero UK and Atech Racing, in conjunction with Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing.
Following his participation in this weekend’s Ypres Rally, the fourth round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, British rally driver Tom Cave is pleased to announce that he is to enter this year’s Rally Finland driving a New Generation Hyundai i20 R5. For Aberdovey-based Tom and his co-driver James Morgan from Hirwaun, this classic event in the FIA World Rally Championship calendar will represent their first WRC outing in the Hyundai.
A great start to the Belgian event on Friday evening for the Welsh pair saw them rise from fifth to third of the British Championship crews during the eight-stage opening leg. They also held a position of 10th in the overall event, an impressive performance with this their first-all asphalt rally in the Hyundai after two previous gravel outings on the Pirelli and Scottish Rallies.
With a number of competitors caught out by the unforgiving West Flanders roads, in contrast Tom and James had dialed themselves in perfectly and consequently increased their position by one in both categories on Saturday morning. Whilst holding a position of 2nd of the BRC runners and 9th overall, what was later found to be a fuel related issue meant that stage 11 was to be their last of the weekend.
Once again, the timesheets had shown that the combination of Cave, Morgan and the Hyundai are a front-running package. Following the event, Tom said:
“Of course, after such a promising start it’s disappointing not to get to the end of the rally – especially as we had a great chance of a podium result – if not winning. The car performed really well and I was pleased that I felt as much at home in it on tarmac as I do on gravel.
“We completed the first half of the rally with no issues whatsoever and it provided us with excellent experience of the car on asphalt. I therefore take a lot of positives away from the event.”
Due to other Hyundai crews suffering accidents in Belgium, it has meant that a car cannot now be made available for Tom to participate in this week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. He and James will now focus their attentions on Rally Finland, which takes place from 27th to 30th July, when they are determined to deliver the result they deserve:
“It’s great to have been able to put together a package for our first WRC outing in the i20 R5 . The last time I competed in Rally Finland was in 2015 and on that occasion I won the DMACK Drive Trophy. It’s an event that I enjoy and it suits my driving style, so it’s great to have the opportunity to now do it a competitive R5 car.”
Tom’s 2017 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: the Trefeddian Hotel, DMACK Tyres, Walero UK and Atech Racing. Further news regarding his 2017 Rally Finland outing will be announced soon.
Following his two previous outings in the car, it is now confirmed that Tom Cave will drive a New Generation Hyundai i20 R5 on the fourth round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, the Belgium-based Ypres Rally on 23rd & 25th June. It is also confirmed that the Welshman from Aberdovey will compete in the same car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a week later.
After an impressive display of speed during the early stages of the Pirelli and Scottish rallies, rounds two and three of the British Rally Championship, Cave is pleased to be continuing his association with the Hyundai for the two forthcoming events:
“It’s great to be back in the Hyundai for the next round of the Championship. Having won every stage we’ve started in the car, it’s clear that it has the pace to win, so it’s going to be exciting to drive it competitively for the first time on asphalt.
“Because of the way our campaign is structured this season, we can only confirm each event as it gets closer to the day, so it’s great to be able to announce two events together this time. Of course, I’m hoping to continue to drive the Hyundai for the rest of the season and really show what the car is capable of.”
The Ypres Rally represents the first of three all-asphalt events in the British Rally Championship season and the first time Cave and his co-driver James Morgan from Hirwaun, will have completed on a non-gravel surface in the Hyundai. Held over closed public roads in the West Flanders area, the event also marks the first time the British Championship has ever featured a point-scoring round outside the UK, apart from the Circuit of Ireland that used to include stages in the Republic.
As soon as the car returns from Belgium, it will be re-prepared and converted back to gravel specification in readiness for the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This globally famous occasion that attracts the best names in motorsport from all over the world, features a specially constructed rally stage on which Cave has been invited to compete by the event organisers.
“It’s a real privilege to be invited to take part in this prestigious annual event. I’ve competed at the Festival of Speed before and it’s a great experience, so I’m delighted that I’m going be showcasing the i20 R5 in such a high profile environment.”
The car will be prepared and run on both occasions by Dom Buckley RSC.
Tom’s 2017 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: the Trefeddian Hotel, DMACK Tyres, Walero UK and Atech Racing.
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.