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.
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.”
As announced a few weeks ago, Tom Cave and his co-driver James Morgan will debut a Hyundai Motorsport-built New Generation i20 R5 in the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship on this weekend’s Pirelli Rally (29th & 30th April).
They head to the second round of the UK’s top rally series lying second in the championship standings after an impressive performance on round one, the Border Counties Rally. Having led the event at the halfway stage, conditions and the determination to secure a good result saw them end a tough but successful weekend in second place.
Tom (from Aberdovey) will drive the Hyundai for the first time in advance of the Pirelli Rally when he and co-driver James Morgan (from Hirwaun) test the car in Kielder Forest on Thursday (27th). Whilst the i20 R5 is new to them both, competition at rallying’s highest level in the UK is not and therefore their hopes are high for another top result, as Tom explains:
“It’s a brand new car and for us, a brand new team, so this will be a learning curve for everyone. The whole package looks great and I’m pleased to report that everything is coming together well. We have a test day planned for Thursday when I’ll be driving the Hyundai for the first time and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m familiar with the Kielder stages, so for James and I the plan is to carry on from where we left off on round one. While we want to make sure we stay in the running for the championship, we also want to do the best job we possibly can for everyone involved with this exciting project.”
The Pirelli Rally starts and finishes in Carlisle. The route features 100 competitive miles in Kielder Forest, split into four stages on Saturday afternoon followed by a further four stages on Sunday morning.
Tom’s British Rally Championship campaign is supported by DMACK Tyres, the Trefeddian Hotel, Walero temperature regulating base layers and Atech Racing.
Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally -17th & 18th March 2017
Prestone MSA British Rally Championship – Round 1
Having held an early lead in this weekend’s Border Counties Rally, round one of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship, Tom Cave together with co-driver James Morgan, proved they were a class act when they finished the Jedburgh-based event in second place. It was only in the latter stages and slippery conditions they were denied an early season victory.
With Tom (from Aberdovey) and James (from Hirwaun) set to contest round two – next month’s Pirelli Rally – driving a New Generation Hyundai i20 R5, they acquired a Fiesta R5 (similar to the car they took to second place in the British Rally Championship last year with Spencer Sport) from Dom Buckley RSC specifically for this weekend’s event. Following a successful test on Thursday and setting second-fastest times on the first two Friday night stages in Craik Forest, it was clear that the Welsh pair were straight back onto the their 2016 pace.
Their performance in the early stages was good enough to see them head to the overnight halt leading the event by 2.8 seconds, ahead of Scottish driver David Bogie in a Skoda R5. Fired up to deliver more of the same on Saturday, they headed off for the first of the day’s seven stages ready for battle and, after setting the fastest time on stage four, they maintained their position at the front of the field.
But behind them Swedish driver Fredrik Ahlin (also in a Skoda) was gathering pace and took the lead on stage five whilst Tom and David Bogie were struggling for grip by virtue of being the first cars on the road. Then, on stage six, Bogie suffered the consequences of clearing the surface for the rest of the field when he hit a rock that was right on the racing line, the impact damaging his car, sending him off the road and into retirement.
Tom however, missed the offending obstacle and, whilst the Scot’s retirement meant he and James were now 44 seconds ahead of Osian Pryce in third, they were 21 seconds behind Ahlin. Not wanting to risk throwing away an impressive points haul that was to be bolstered by Tom playing his joker on this event, the strategy for the three remaining stages was to hold fast and therefore, be in a position to take advantage should anything happen to the leader.
As it turned out, nothing did happen to Ahlin and after a clean run through the final trio of stages, Tom and James returned to Jedburgh for the finish as runners-up. After the podium presentation, Tom said:
“Having led the event in its early stages, it proved we still have the pace to run at the front of the field, so I’m very happy with that. I’m also happy to finish second on an event that saw six different teams – including us – set a fastest time in one or more of the event’s nine stages.
“Yes, of course, James and I wanted to win, but with a new car and a new team on an unfamiliar event, it’s a very satisfying outcome. By playing our joker we scored another four points which means that we’re on 22 against Fredrik’s 25, with Osian in third on 15. So all in all it was as good a start to the season as we had hoped for and it sets us up nicely for round two.”
Tom went on to thank: James for his continued support, the Dom Buckely RSC team for providing such a competitive and reliable car, DMACK Tyres who’s products worked really well in the changing conditions and also Walero UK, Atech Racing and the Trefeddian Hotel for their support.
Tom and James now prepare for the next event, the Pirelli Rally that takes place on 29th & 30th April, when they swap to a New Generation Hyundai i20 R5 to give the car its first ever competitive outing in a British Rally Championship event.
It has been confirmed that Tom Cave will drive an i20 R5 on the forthcoming Pirelli International Rally, round two of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship. The event, that takes place on 29th & 30th April, marks the car’s first ever appearance at this level of competition in the UK.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to debut this car in a round of the British Rally Championship”, said Tom. “The Hyundai has previously been seen on rounds of the WRC – including Rally GB – and other overseas events, so I am delighted to be the first drive it in the BRC.”
The New Generation i20 R5 is to be supplied and run by an experienced private Hyundai Motorsport customer team, who compete regularly in national championships across Europe. Tom is scheduled to carry out a substantial test in the car ahead of the Kielder Forest-based event.
“Having been developed throughout the course of 2016, the i20 R5 has already proved it can be competitive and, because it’s the first time for the car in the BRC, I’m expecting it to attract a lot of attention. I’m therefore intending to do the best job I can for everyone involved and to show the car in the best way possible.”
It was announced last week that Tom will contest the first round of the British Rally Championship – this month’s Border Counties Rally – in a Dom Buckley prepared Fiesta R5. The drive in the Hyundai is currently just for one event and therefore the 25 year-old Welshman is hoping that a good result and the exposure surrounding it will give momentum to the rest of his season.
“Having finished second last year, the aim is to be able to continue in the BRC for the whole season, as I believe I have an opportunity to fight for the title. I therefore hope that with a good result, the drive in the i20 will lead on to other things – hopefully in another Hyundai!”
Tom will be partnered this season by his co-driver from 2016, James Morgan and said: “I’m delighted James will be joining me again. Whilst the team and the what I’m driving will change this season, it’s great that with James the consistency will be maintained inside the car.”
Tom’s Hyundai drive next month is supported by DMACK Tyres, Trefeddian Hotel, Walero and Atech Racing.
The latest high-profile name to sign-up to the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship in 2017, Tom’s return to Britain’s premier rallying series will see him pilot a Ford Fiesta R5 prepared by Dom Buckley Motorsport alongside co-driver James Morgan on the Border Counties Rally.
Last season’s runner-up has committed to the series once again as he goes in search of his first four-wheel-drive win in the BRC. The 25-year-old is fired-up ahead of the first round after a confidence building 2016, taking four podiums and being the only driver – other than WRC star Elfyn Evans – to burst through the 100 point mark in the standings. With Evans graduating to the world stage, the path is now clear for a new champion to be crowned.
“Last year was very successful,” enthused Tom. “To finish second behind Elfyn was the best I could have hoped for and beyond all expectations. This time last year it was a case of learning everything – a new team, new car and new co-driver. We couldn’t live with Elfyn and Fredrik [Ahlin] initially but, as I gelled with the Spencer Sport team and James, the results started to come. By the Scottish we really started to get into our stride and then showed good pace right up to the end of the season.”
The Aberdovey-based driver knows the Fiesta R5 well and believes everything is in place to mount a strong charge from the word ‘go’ in Scotland – with the series blasting off on the 17/18 March.
“I think I can fight at the front once again. I’ve have not competed on a full event since September but with what I’ve done since it felt like I had never been away. I feel comfortable and ready to fight on the Border Counties. I have done a lot of rallies in the Fiesta R5 and believe all the ingredients are there to compete for a win.”
It’s a new year and new challenge for Tom, who is leading the attack for Dom Buckley Motorsport in the BRC. Tom had a successful year last year and appreciates the backing he enjoyed from Spencer Sport throughout 2016.
“I would like to thank Spencer Sport for all their support last year. To work with Charlie and Jamie Jukes and help bring a new team into the BRC was a great experience. To take four podiums together I think shows the level of success we achieved, but unfortunately we couldn’t put a package together this year. I wish them well for the future and I look forward to the new challenges this year will bring.”
Tom has been a long-term supporter of the British Rally Championship and is eager to shine on some of the world’s best stages.
“It looks like the BRC will be well supported once again and it’s an excellent proving ground for young drivers. Elfyn has proved that. The level of competition this year is destined to provide some great battles, so I’m delighted to continue to be involved.”
It wasn’t the outcome that Tom Cave, co-driver James Morgan, or indeed all of the 108 competitors and everyone involved with Saturday’s Llandudno-based Cambrian Rally had expected, when the event was cancelled after stage one due to a significant overnight fall of snow and sub-zero temperatures.
With it his first rally in the car, Tom (from Aberdovey), tested the McKinstry Motorsport WRC Subaru Impreza on Friday morning. After a few small tweaks to the suspension and with the DMACK tyres working extremely well, Tom felt comfortable in the car and ready to challenge for his first Cambrian Rally victory.
But, when he and James (from Hirwaun) arrived at the start of the opening stage – a 6.35-mile run through Alwen Forest – they were surprised to encounter a road that was completely covered in compacted snow and ice. Running ahead of the rest of the field, there were no tyre tracks or indeed any sign of gravel showing through the white carpet that lay ahead of them.
A cautious approach was definitely the order of service and, with very little grip to be had, Tom and James were extremely relieved to make it to the finish of the stage, having stayed on the road and setting third-fastest overall time after a masterly display of car control. However, any measure of performance was somewhat irrelevant, as it was clear from a competitor’s perspective that the rally could go no further.
News then came in that organisers had cancelled the remaining five stages and subsequently instructed crews to return to the service area, where Tom said:
“It was absolutely the right decision to cancel the rest of the event. It was crazy carrying on in those conditions. I feel sorry for the organisers and marshals, as I appreciate just how much work goes into a rally like this. But it was better to take this course of action than to take any risks in conditions that were more in keeping with the Swedish Rally that’s also taking place this weekend.”
“Of course, it was a shame not to be able to put on a good show for my sponsors and supporters, or to make full use of the World Rally Car at my disposal. I’ll therefore have to wait another year before I can complete what I regard as unfinished business on my most local event. In the meantime, I’m contemplating another outing in the Subaru soon.”
Tom went on to thank James for helping him keep the car on the icy roads and his supporters for this event: the Trefeddian Hotel, DMACK Tyres, Walero and Atech Racing. Also to McKinstry Motorsport for making the journey from Northern Ireland for a weekend that was somewhat cut short.
Further news about Tom’s 2017 rally programme will be announced soon.
Photo credit: Richard Simpson