Following a successful outing driving a Vauxhall Corsa-e in the Get Connected Rali Ceredigion at the beginning of September, Aberdovey’s Tom Cave has been invited to compete in the final round of the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup, the 3 Städte Rallye (3 Cities Rally), by the car’s owners Myerscough College & University Centre.
Taking place between 13th and 15th October, the rally is unique as its route takes competitors into three countries: Bavaria, Austria and for the first time this year, Czech Republic. The event represents the seventh and final round of the only one-make rally series in the world for fully electric vehicles, consequently attracting a great deal of attention from the sport’s governing bodies, manufacturers and event organisers who are looking at how motorsport’s future can become more sustainable.
Students from Lancashire-based Myerscough College and University Centre are first-time visitors to Germany when they will support their car on this, the final round of the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup as part of their Motorsport Competition Car Technology course. Following the successful appearance on Rali Ceredigion, team manager and lecturer at Myerscough College Simon Moss invited Tom to drive the car on the 3 Städte Rallye.
“We were very pleased with the way things went on the Rali Ceredigion, so when the opportunity to take the car to the final round of the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup came up, I had no hesitation in asking Tom if he was available to drive the car.” explains Simon.
“With the experience of Tom and his co-driver on this occasion Dale Furniss, we are hoping they can compete with the front runners in the series and if we could come away with a podium finish it would be a great way to end the season for the students and the College. It would also serve to draw attention to what we’re doing and showcase how alternatively powered vehicles can be used for motorsport.”
Tom is equally as intrigued about his trip to Germany:
“It’s great to be invited to drive the Corsa-e again. My previous outing in the car was an interesting and enjoyable experience, albeit different to what I’m used to. However. I’m very pleased to be involved with what is clearly a very significant and important innovation in the sport that could shape the future of rallying and its sustainability for years to come.
“Whilst I’ve not taken part in this rally before, I’m hoping that my previous overseas outings will serve me well, although I’ll be up against drivers who have a far more experience of driving the Corsa-e. I’m fascinated to see how things go, especially as unlike Rali Ceredigion, I’ll be competing against others in the same machinery and there’s the infrastructure in place for charging the cars between the stages.”
Following a pre-event shakedown on Thursday (13th October), the 3 Städte Rallye gets underway from Waldkirchen in Bavaria at 14.30 on Friday with six stages before the overnight halt. Saturday sees another eight stages before the finish at 18.00 in Breitenberg, also in Bavaria. The 14 stages combined provides competitors with a total of 168.5 kms crossing the borders of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
When you take part in any sport it’s important to go into an event with an open mind and treat it as an opportunity to learn new things. Well, this weekend’s Get connected Rali Ceredigion was certainly one of those occasions.
A few weeks ago I was asked if I would drive a Vauxhall Corse-e on the rally. It would be the first time a 100% electric vehicle had ever competed on a multi-venue stage rally. Without knowing too much about car I said yes as again, it was a chance to learn something new.
I knew that because it was a first and the rally was focussing on sustainability and promoting lower-carbon transport initiatives, it would gain a lot of publicity for all sorts of reasons. I tested the car last week to get a feel for it and I must admit that whilst I’ve competed in small hatchbacks before, it felt very different from any other I’ve ever driven.
This is mainly because of the transmission. There isn’t any. It’s just direct drive to the wheels from the electric motors. You can still left-foot-brake and use the handbrake as you would in a traditional rally car though, which is good.
The car was built by Opel Motorsport to take part in the ADAC Opel e-rally Cup in Germany. It’s currently owned by Myerscough College & University Centre in Preston, Lancashire, where a team of motorsport students maintain and prepare the car. They did a fantastic job of looking after Will Atkins – my co-driver for this event – and I throughout the event.
Without many moving parts, there was never going to be much that needed to be done at the service halts, other than charging the battery of course. Because you’re driving flat out on the stages, they told me it would drain the power four-times quicker than that of normal driving. Therefore, we had to schedule our rally a little differently to other competitors.
We did the two short Saturday stages that ran from Aberystwyth marina, around the sea front road beneath the castle grounds, into the town and then finished just before the prom. It was fantastic to see so many people watching. It was more than I’ve seen on some WRC events! A real credit to the organisers.
The route then headed inland for two much longer stages in the countryside. However, with delays caused due to a few incidents and cars blocking the roads, we only completed one of the stages before the overnight halt.
I then drove all of the stages on Sunday once, whereas other competitors completed them twice. Whilst the Corsa would have probably made it round the whole route, this was a huge learning exercise for everyone involved and we didn’t want to push our luck.
I was absolutely overwhelmed with the attention surrounding the project and the number of questions I was asked. Clearly, it was well received and people seemed to be very interested in what this meant for the future of the sport. They understood this represented a significant moment in the history of rallying and I have to say that I was proud to be part of it.
I remember making history three years ago, when in 2019 the event was held for the first time. Running at number one meant that I became the first driver to compete on closed public roads in Wales.
On that occasion I was driving a Hyundai i20 R5 and of course, it would be good to have been challenging for the overall lead again this year. But sport is cyclical and I’m sure that opportunity will come round again before too long. Whether or not it’s in a fully-electric, Hybrid or conventionally powered car, we’ll just have to wait and see…
Thanks and congratulations goes to everyone involved with the Corsa-e project: Myerscough College & University Centre, Cawdor Group – Vauxhall dealers covering Mid and West Wales – Renewable Developments Wales, Go Fetch pet travel, Michelin tyres, Garry Davies Accident Repairs and ATech Racing.
In his first rally since February 2020, Aberdyfi’s Tom Cave together with co-driver Dale Furniss from Llanfylin, took the fight to the forests when following an event-long battle for the lead, they emerged from the eighth and final stage of this year’s Nicky Grist Stages Rally in second place, just five seconds from victory behind British Rally Championship rivals Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod.
Driving a Ford Fiesta Rally 2 for the very first time and having not competed for 16 months, Tom was eager to hit the ground running from the off. And following a successful test a couple of days before the event, that’s exactly what he did.
Starting and finishing from the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, the Nicky Grist Stages comprised four stages in the morning followed by a second loop of the same route in the afternoon. It was clear from the start that Tom carried on where he left off last year when he set the second-fastest time on stage one Llyn Login, just one second behind Osian Pryce.
Another second-fastest time on stage two Monument, followed by a win on stage three in Halfway Forest saw Tom take the lead, albeit sharing the same overall time with Edwards. The fourth stage of the day was also the longest, a nine-mile encounter through the infamous Crychan Forest.
Another impressive performance enabled Tom to keep in contention and, as crews entered the lunchtime service halt in Builth Wells, he and Dale found themselves in second place, two second behind Edwards and Garrod. And, with Pryce and his co-driver Noel O’Sullivan third, just five seconds further back, the scene was set for an intense battle in the afternoon.
And the leading trio didn’t disappoint. Tom and Edwards posted equal-fastest time on SS5, with Pryce one second behind. Then in SS6, Edwards found an extra four seconds, whilst Tom and Pryce shared the second-fastest time.
With Edwards gaining another second and Tom doing likewise from Pryce in SS7, the timesheets at the start of the eighth and final stage showed a gap of seven seconds between the leading pair, who had pulled out the same margin from Pryce in third. It was now all down to the final stage, but with no breeze and the gravel roads now bone-dry, the dust generated by the cars ahead was destined to prove decisive.
Throwing almost everything he had in his rally-skills arsenal for the second run through Crychan, Tom drove a blinder and at the end of the stage Edwards – who was running first on the road – waited anxiously at the finish control. As the clock stopped, it was revealed that Tom had closed the gap to just five seconds, with Pryce claiming third, seven seconds later.
“I’m happy with that. Of course, it would have been good to win on my return to the British Championship, but I’m satisfied with second, especially with the visibility issues to contend with”, said a satisfied Tom at the Finish.
“When you’re out of the seat for a while, you do start to wonder whether you’re going to be on the pace, but today’s event has answered that question. It’s been a fantastic battle all day with Matt and Osian. Just like old times. I have to congratulate Matt for job well done and Osian for keeping me on my ‘A’ game from start to finish.
“A big thanks goes to Dale for doing such a good job alongside me today. I’m also grateful to the team at Dom Buckley RSC who provided me with a car that ran faultlessly. They also did a great job getting everything organised during the lead up to this event.
“I have to especially thank each and every one of my sponsors: Trailhead Fine Foods – Get Jerky, Intervino, Go Fetch, Pirelli Motorsport, Atech Racing and all of the unsung heroes that are involved with the considerable operation that’s required to deliver a successful rally. I know it’s a cliché to say that we couldn’t have done it without them, but we really couldn’t. I know that together we can build on what we’ve achieved today, with the ultimate aim of challenging for the British title.”
1 Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod VW Polo R5 42m 30s
2 Tom Cave/Dale Furniss Ford Fiesta Rally 2 42m 35s
3 Osian Pryce/Noel O’Sullivan VW Polo R5 42m 42s
4 Rhys Yates/James Morgan Ford Fiesta Rally 2 43m 26s
5 Matthew Wilson/Stuart Loudon Ford Festa Rally 2 43m 30s
Tom is delighted to confirm that he will take part in this Saturday’s (10th July) Nicky Grist Stages Rally, round two of the 2021 British Rally Championship. The Builth Wells-based event will be his first competitive outing since the Cambrian Rally in February 2020 and understandably, he is looking forward to being back behind the wheel again:
“Having recently secured the backing from a collective of Welsh businesses and other supporting partners, the package to compete in this weekend’s Nicky Grist stages and kick start our season has literally come together in the past few days. I’m therefore extremely grateful to Trailhead Fine Foods Get Jerky, Pre-Eminent Solutions, Go Fetch, Atech Racing and Pirelli Motorsport for their invaluable support.”
For the first time since the Wales Rally GB in 2017 – when he finished an impressive third in the WRC2 category – Tom will be driving a Ford Fiesta Rally2 prepared and run by Dom Buckley RSC. Returning to the co-driver’s seat will be Dales Furniss from Llanfylin who accompanied Tom for last year’s Cambrian Rally – the only event the pair contested in 2020 before lockdown intervened.
Previous to that, Tom and Dale recorded their best ever World Rally Championship result by finishing 11th overall on the 2019 Wales Rally GB and in doing so, secured third place in the WRC2 class as well as winning awards for being the first independent entry and top Welsh crew.
“After what feels like a long 16 months, I hope I’m not going to be too match-rusty. We have some testing lined up this week, so the plan is to be on the pace when we set off on Saturday. It’s going to be great competing again, especially over the stages this rally uses as they’re some of my favourites. I really can’t wait to get started!”
A top-quality entry sees Tom and Dale seeded at #4 in a packed field of 150 cars. Indeed, such was the popularity of the event, orgainisers reported that entries sold out in 15 minutes!
The rally features a loop of four stages in the morning that is repeated in the afternoon, the combination of all eight stages providing a competitive distance of 44 miles. Whilst an event that has always attracted large numbers of spectators, at the request of the Military of Defence that owns much of the land used by the rally, this year will see the event take place behind closed doors.
Consequently, the action can be viewed via live stream broadcast on the Special Stage TV Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/specialstage. The stream will also be accessible alongside the live tracking feed: http://rallytracking.co.uk/ Plus, there will be further coverage provided by Rally FM: http://rallyfm.net/
Tom’s 2021 rally campaign is supported by: Trailhead Fine Foods Get Jerky – premium Beef Jerky snack, Pre-Eminent Solutions, Go Fetch pet transport specialists, Intervino personalised gifts, Pirelli Motorsport, Atech Racing and RPM Promotions.
British Rally Championship round two – Preview
West Cork Rally, Clonakilty, Ireland – 14-15 March 2020
Tom is looking forward to returning to the event where he posted his first of three British Rally Championship victories last year, the Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally, which takes places this coming St Patrick’s Day weekend – 14th & 15th March. He will be partnered by co-driver Dale Furniss.
In a nail-biting, final stage shoot out in 2019 against fellow Welshman Matt Edwards, driving his PCRS prepared, Get Jerky supported Hyundai i20 R5, Tom and his co-driver on that occasion James Morgan secured an impressive win by a margin of 4.8 seconds. Scroll forward to 2020 and the rivalry is rekindled, with Edwards also returning to West Cork in a Ford Fiesta R5.
But the competition for BRC honours this year doesn’t end there, with the appearance of another Welsh driver Osian Pryce in a VW Polo R5, WRC regular Rhys Yates in a Fiesta, 2019 Billy Coleman Award winner Josh McErlean – also in a Hyundai – and Ollie Mellors driving a Proton Iriz R5.
Tom sets the scene: “To win the British Championship round and finish third overall against so many top Irish drivers last year was fantastic and very satisfying. Looking at the entry list for this year, the competition is just as tough – if not tougher – so we’ll need to be on our game and as well prepared as we can be, make sure the pre-event test and recce go well and then give it our best shot.”
Tom and Dale initially led the opening round of the British Championship, last month’s Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, before clipping a rock and breaking a wheel. The subsequent time lost pushed them outside the top-ten, but a fight back through the field saw them end the day a credible sixth.
“We need to keep our championship hopes on track and to do that, scoring points is all-important”, explains Tom. “The West Cork Rally is a demanding event with 14 stages and 135 miles on closed public roads. So whilst it’s not a sprint, you can’t afford to back off, especially with strength of competition we’ll be up against. I can’t wait!”
Following a ceremonial start in Clonakilty on Friday evening, the action gets underway on Saturday morning and features eight stages providing 68 competitive miles. Sunday’s distance is similar, with its six stages covering 67 miles of competition.
Tom’s 2020 rally campaign is supported by: Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, Pirelli Tyres, Trailhead Fine Foods and Get Jerky, Shukers Hyundai of Aberystwyth, WD40 and Atech Racing.
Whilst away in December 2019 on holiday, there was head space to reflect on the year gone by. There were no realistic options on the horizon for 2020. I was un sure whether I was going to move forward for another year in the British Rally Championship. Not because I didn't want to, it down to circumstances out of my control.
2019 on the whole was successful, 3 outright rally wins, handful of podiums, albeit one sizeable accident on the Ulster Rally. Which only dented pride thankfully. I was never at one with car on that event, I had to push with out it coming naturally, Matt drove very well I could not get near to chinking his armour. I learnt a lot about my self that weekend too, I never voiced my opinions afterwards to anyone, I suppose I didn’t want to show a sign of weakness, but I was immensely disappointed, I knew the championship title was going to be a mountain climb blindfolded, near impossible! Fast forward to Galloway Hills rally, the minimum required was to win from my side, I didn’t feel the pressure, because I had nothing really to lose, it was all on Matts shoulders. We came out on fine form never the less, we won 8 of 8 stages and claimed the rally victory. This was a huge confidence boost, moving forward and a relief that I extracted a small positive from the past few weeks. Phillip and his army of mechanics, spent the best part of 2 weeks prior to Galloway Hills solidngly, working, cutting, welding, ALZ R550 back together again after the Ulster rally incident. That win was for them, in large quantise of gratitude towards their efforts on getting the car ready for Scotland.
Wales Rally GB: A new co driver, Dale Furniss. I had known Dale for many years on and off events. I was looking forward to working together. The event on whole was very good. We started with few a car issues, one to note was a complete re wire job of the steering wheel, there was broken wire which was causing intermittent responses to my wheel output controls, Anti Lag control, Boost control, wipers etc. In the end all controls were lost on the wheel, prior to stage 2 Elsi. We didn’t have anti lag, or full boost then onwards for elsi and penmachno. The long road section down to Dyfnant gave us a opportunity to have a go at a road side repair job. Much to Dales delight in the pouring rain, Ciaran our engineer sent us over a wiring diagram, find attached photo! And we attempted a successful fix, having to use our teeth to strip the wire back! The time loss was on average, 25 secs a stage to fastest R5 car, so over 2 stages we lost the best part of a minute to my frustration!
To put the overall result into perspective we finished 15.9 seconds behind 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg & 59 seconds behind 1st R5 car, Kalle Rovenpera!
On reflection, It was a weekend of what ifs, whats ifs; Or like Guy Martin said I quote; “If, ifs and buts were pots and pans, we would all be scrap mental merchants” The result was my best finish to date on Wales Rally GB, 11th overall. It is an event I love, an event I looked upto when I was young lad, out spectating with my dad, and hopefully one day I get the opportunity to compete on WRGB in a WRCcar.
A new decade has began, it had been a tough 8 weeks, more from a personal perspective, a family bereavement, which puts added pressure on every one close to you, and you don’t realise how much it had niggled away in your own head in till you reflect back on it. We learnt an opportunity was possible do BRC again, in the Hyundai I20 R5. Heading to the Autosport Show at the NEC, discussions were carried out with our partners of 2019, and we agreed to go ahead with a programme in the BRC. As always these things never come together when you would like them to, but nonetheless I am grateful we have a programme to aim for, 4 weeks and counting to round 1, Cambrian rally.
Our pre event test was the first time I had been in the car since November. I knew we had a good setup from Wales rally GB, stages are similar on the Cambrian rally, same Pirelli Tyres. There wasn’t to much to learn from the test. We had a upgraded set of suspension to test, I felt the traction and feeling in the car was improved greatly with the upgrded shocks, so we opted to use these for the rally. Conditions were perfect, cold, crisp air & potent combination for a R5 car, engine felt strong all was happy heading into the recce.
As many of you have seen, the rally wasn’t successful. We came out fastest out the blocks, albeit Matt did stall on the start line of Stage 1. Matt fought back on stage 2 taking 1.5 seconds back over 8 miles. Heading into Penmachno stage 3, there was a small delay at the start. That gave us all a chance to have a catch up, chat abit of nonsense as we always do in-between stages.. I like to break out the Haribo’s keeps things sociable!
4.5 miles into the stage 3, the rear got away from me on a 3rd gear right hand corner, and the rear left wheel, struck a large rock. Consequently breaking the wheel, and brake disc into 3 pieces. I carried onto the next junction, I knew that was only 200 metres away. Luckily I did, because we could not get the jack under the car, thankfully the spectators lifted the car up enough to get the jack lined up with the jacking post, and we got the wheel changed, albeit 3 mins 35seconds have gone by. But it felt much longer working away on the side of the road changing the wheel in all the chaos, with cars hurdling past every 1 minute or so, and with hot wheel nuts to contend with, a VERY hot brake disc hanging off, the rally win had long disappeared into the horizon!
Overall result, we fought our way back up to 6th overall, scored crucial championship points, fastest times on the board too. Moving onto West Cork Rally in March; great event and based 2019, we showed good pace.
That is all for now, I hope you enjoyed my blog…
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Bye for now,
British Rally Championship round one – Report
Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally – 8th February 2020
Having led the event from the start, Saturday’s Cambrian Rally saw Tom and his co-driver Dale Furniss having to call on their skills and resolve when a broken wheel and the subsequent time lost on stage three, forced them to fight back to go on to score a hard-earned sixth place.
It wasn’t the result the two Welshman had been looking for to kick start their 2020 British Rally Championship campaign, but they came away from the event consoled in the knowledge that the pace is there to win when the opportunity and better fortunes allow.
The Llandudno-based Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally featured six North Wales forest stages plus a run on asphalt around the Great Orme headland – an area that Tom and Dale know well having been rewarded with success in November when they finished 11th overall and top non-WRC registered crew on the Wales Rally GB.
Using his knowledge of the area, combined with his confidence in the PCRS-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, Tom was fastest out of the box and after stage two led the event by a margin of 1.7 seconds from his perennial rival, Matt Edwards.
With the scene set for an intriguing battle for the remainder of the rally, stage three proved pivotal, when Tom and Dale clipped a rock with the rear, nearside wheel. The impact was enough to break the alloy and puncture the tyre, forcing them to stop at the side of the road to change the wheel.
Although carrying out the running repairs as quickly as they could, nearly four minutes were lost. Consequently, the only option now was damage limitation and get to back on the trail to score as many points as possible.
Now in tenth place, Tom and Dale picked off the cars ahead of them stage-by stage. After setting another fastest time on the seventh and final stage of the day, Elsi – a forest Tom knows well, following impressive runs over its testing seven miles in the past two Rally GB outings – the Welshmen crossed the line in sixth place. Clearly, whilst it wasn’t the result they had hoped for, both were satisfied that given the circumstances, it was the best that they could have done and that championship points were now on the board.
“I was pleased in the knowledge that we were on the pace right from the start. I felt at home in the Hyundai from the word go. The PCRS team know how to build a reliable car and set it up just how I like it. So, even though the competition was tough, I knew we had a great chance of a top result.
“It therefore came as quite a blow that when we clipped a rock on the outside of a fast right-hander, the consequences were as severe as they were. All we could do from then on was exactly what we did and bring home as many points as possible. We have the team, the car – in fact the whole package – to challenge for the British title, so we’ll now re-group and focus on the next event. Thanks go to Dale and the team for a job well done and our sponsors for their invaluable support.”
The second round of the British Rally Championship is the West Cork Rally. Having scored a fiercely fought victory last year, Tom will be gunning to do exactly the same again on 14th & 15th March.
Tom’s 2020 campaign is supported by: Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, Pirelli Tyres, Trailhead Get Jerky, Shukers Hyundai, WD40 and Atech Racing.
Photo by Stanislav Kucera.
Back to challenge for this year’s British Championship title is Aberdovey’s Tom Cave, who will embark on a second season driving a PCRS prepared Hyundai i20 R5 on Saturday’s Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally.
This year will see him partnered by Dale Furniss from Llanfylin, who co-drove for Tom when he recorded his best ever World Rally Championship result of 11th overall in October’s Wales Rally GB. In doing so, Tom and Dale finished third of the WRC2 class entries, first independent entry and top Welsh Crew.
After winning three of lasts year’s six British Rally Championship rounds and setting more fastest stage times than any other driver, Tom ended the 2019 British season as runner-up and therefore, has his sights firmly fixed on grasping the title this year.
“It’s great to be back in the British Rally Championship and after finishing second place for the third time last year, adding to my results in 2016 and 2012, I feel I have some unfinished business to attend to. We’ve spent the past few weeks bringing everything together for this season, so I’m delighted to be able to kick things off with the Cambrian Rally this weekend.”
As well as entering this year’s British Championship, Tom also aims to maintain his podium-finishing profile at world level and therefore, plans to enter two WRC events this season: Rally Finland in August and Wales Rally GB at the end of the October.
“In addition to all six rounds of the British Championship, if all goes well we are planning to go back to Finland, where I scored third in the WRC2 class in 2017 driving a Hyundai. Likewise, having finished third of the R5s in last year’s Rally GB, it would be great to do the same again. It would be a perfect way to round off the season.
“However, we have to focus on the first event and although the Cambrian Rally is fairly local to me, it’s a tough one to start with and we’ll need to hit the ground running. I’m sure the PCRS team will do their usual fantastic job when it comes to providing a strong and reliable car, so I’m hoping we’ll get off to a great start. It feels like a long time since last October and my last outing in the car, so I can’t wait to get started. Bring it on!”
The 65th edition of the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally will be based in the event’s familiar home of Llandudno and – as it did for last year’s Wales Rally GB – the town hosts the event’s start and finish.
Running second car on the road, behind last year’s winner Matt Edwards, Tom will leave the Promenade at 09.02. Then, together with the rest of the 100+ car field, will head south to tackle three gravel-surface stages in Crafnant, Gwydir and Penmachno forests, followed by a run around the Great Orme headland road on asphalt before the midday service halt at Rhos-onSea near Colwyn Bay.
The afternoon sees a further three forest stages in Crafnant, Gwydir and Elsi which, as his performances from the previous two Rally GB outings have shown, is one of Tom’s favourite stages. After completing 44 miles of competition, cars return to Llandudno Promenade for the finish from 15.43.
Tom’s 2020 rally campaign is supported by: Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, Pirelli Tyres, Trailhead Foods Get Jerky, Shukers Hyundai of Aberystwyth, WD40 and Atech Racing.
To acknowledge the success of its customer racing teams in 2019, Hyundai Motorsport’s Customer Racing division held a prize-giving event at its Alzenau-based headquarters on Monday (November 26).
Tom was delighted to be one of the drivers invited to attend this prestigious occasion that saw more than 50 people who represented many of Hyundai Motorsport’s most successful customer campaigns from around the world. Those attending were responsible for victories with the Hyundai i20 R5 in rallying and the Hyundai i30 N TCR and Hyundai Veloster N TCR in racing.
The prize-giving ceremony, where the leading drivers and team representatives were awarded a specially designed trophy, was held only metres away from the workshops where the winning cars are built, in the same facility that also houses Hyundai Motorsport’s championship winning WRC team. And as well as a day to reward the teams’ performances during the season, the event also gave them a chance to catch up with some of the Customer Racing department engineers and mechanics.
Rallying customers were well represented among the guests, including national title champions from Slovenia, Romania and Netherlands, who were joined by runners up in the German, Spanish, Portuguese national series’ and of course, the British Rally Championship. Also receiving an award was Philip Case of PCRS, the Letterkenny-based team that did such a great job of preparing and running the Hyundai i20 R5 that Tom drove to success this season, not only in the BRC, but also in October’s Wales Rally GB.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Senior Sales Associate Andrew Johns said: “The day when we get to host our successful customers in Alzenau is always one of the highlights of the year. It’s a great opportunity to firstly celebrate the championship and race wins, but also to build on the strong relationships we have with our customer teams. To have so many attend is fantastic and really shows the strength of the R5 and TCR cars can deliver. Hopefully we can see some of the same faces back this time next year, together with some new names on the roll of honour after another successful season.”
Following the event, Tom commented: “It was a privilege to be invited to Hyundai Motorsport’s Customer Racing event and to be presented with an award for our efforts this season – especially amongst other leading drivers and teams from around the world. It’s been great to be part of the HMSG family this year and to be associated with the success of the company’s R5 programme. I therefore hope that we can continue the relationship into 2020 and look forward to making further announcements soon.”
Tom went on to thank everyone who has been involved with his campaign in 2019: Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, Trailhead Beef Jerky, Cambrian Training, Michelin Motorsport, Pirelli, Go Fetch, Intervino, Ponsse UK, Shukers Hyundai, HN Nuttall Foodservice and Atech Racing.
Tom also extended his appreciation to PCRS and his co-drivers during 2019: Dale Bowen, James Morgan and Dale Furniss.
* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA
Wales Rally GB – 3-6 October 2019
Tom, together with co-driver Dale Furniss, delivered a personal best performance on this year’s Wales Rally GB – Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship – when he finished an impressive 11th overall and took third place in the fiercely competitive R5 category.
Tom and Dale also collected awards for being the first privateer entry, the first non-WRC registered entry and top Welsh crew.
The rally began on Thursday afternoon with a well-attended ceremonial start and autograph session at Liverpool’s Waterfront development. With the first and second finishers in the British Rally Championship nominated to head the field, Tom had the privilege of being flagged away as car two by the city’s mayor, behind his season-long BRC rival and PCRS Hyundai team-mate for this event, Matt Edwards.
Competitors headed to Oulton Park for the first of the event’s 22 stages – a spectator-friendly affair that used parts of the circuit and a variety of the venue’s in-field roads. Greeted by a light drizzle, conditions were extremely slippery and after loosing the effect of the car’s power steering in a man-made watersplash and then spinning later in the stage, Tom and Dale dropped a few seconds to their category counterparts. However, they were through the test safe and sound and ready to start the first day ‘proper’ in the northwest Wales forests that are familiar territory for the Welsh pair.
As Tom went to start the first of the morning’s four stages, he noticed something amiss with the car’s electronics that caused an issue with the launch control and ALS (Anti-Lag-Strategy). Add to this a fault with the wipers – not ideal in the conditions – he and Dale did exceptionally well to get back to service lying 20th overall and as the ninth R5 entry out of 28.
With the PCRS team returning the Hyundai to 100%, Tom was able to pick up the pace for the afternoon’s five stages – a re-run of the morning’s four plus the Slate Mountain spectator stage – and bit-by-bit he and Dale moved up the leaderboard to end the day 15th and 6th respectively.
The weather improved for Saturday morning’s three-stage loop in classic Rally GB mid-Wales territory. With the car, tyres and crew all set and raring to go, an impressive display of driving saw Tom battling with former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg in a VW Polo R5, Tom initially getting ahead before the Norwegian legend took back the place, albeit by a handful of seconds.
Although weather conditions worsened for the afternoon’s repeat run of the morning’s stages plus another spectator affair at Colwyn Bay in the evening, another fast and consistent performance enabled Tom and Dale to improve their position and when they pulled into the service area in Llandudno for the overnight halt, they were 13th overall, 4th in the R5 category and just 0.3 seconds from being the first privateer entry.
Albeit overcast and blustery, Sunday dawned without the accompaniment of rain. It was clear to see by their time through the first of the day’s first run in Alwen Forest that Tom and Dale were fired up for a final-day push by claiming two places and in doing so, elevated themselves to 11th overall and third of the R5 cars, behind the Pro WRC2 entry of Kalle Rovenpera in a works Skoda and Solberg, who was now 12 seconds ahead.
The next stage in Brenig Forest – which saw another well executed delivery by the Welsh pair – should have been followed by a run around the Great Orme, but the prevailing windy conditions and consequently no diver cover in the sea below the stage led to the stage being cancelled. Therefore, when Tom and Dale arrived for the mid-morning service, the timesheets showed they had held station.
With just two more stages left – a re-run of Alwen and Brenig – Tom pushed as hard as he could to see if he and Dale could edge into the top 10. However, everyone else pushed too and when they returned to Llandudno sea front for the finish, the results revealed they had consolidated their position of 11th overall and 3rd in the R5 (RC2) category, as well as finishing first non-WRC registered entry, first privateer and top Welsh crew.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with this result” said an elated Tom at the finish. “To record my best ever result on a World Rally Championship round is just what I had hoped for, especially against such a high quality field of drivers in R5 cars.
“After a challenging start and having to cope with difficult conditions, Dale and I just kept up a consistent pace and from Friday afternoon onwards we knuckled down, fought our way up the leader board stage-by-stage and made sure we got the job done on Saturday so that we were where we wanted to be on Sunday and able to challenge for a top-ten overall position.
“I really have to thank everyone who made this event possible: For Dale and all the work he did inside the car and the PCRS team for all they did outside it. A truly fantastic job all-round. I also have to thank our sponsors and supporters for their invaluable contributions: Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing, Pirelli tyres, Trailhead Fine Foods and their Get Jerky snack brand, Cambrian Training, Shukers Hyundai of Aberystwyth, Intervino personalised gifts, Go Fetch pet transport and Atech Racing. We couldn’t have done it without you!”