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 to 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!”