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.