Tom Cave and his co-driver James Morgan won round two of the British Rally Championship on this weekend’s Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally, the result putting Tom’s chase for the BRC title firmly back on track. The event also hosted a round of the Irish Tarmac Championship and therefore, the Welsh pair’s third place overall against many of Ireland’s top drivers, underlined the strength of their performance.
Proceedings began on Friday evening with a ceremonial start in the centre of Clonakitly, the event’s host town, with the action getting underway on Saturday morning in extremely wet and windy conditions. Right from the word go, Tom from Aberdovey and James from Hirwaun made their intentions clear by setting the third-fastest overall time on the first stage.
A braking issue on stage two slowed them slightly, but with the Hyundai working well and Michelin tyres providing exceptional grip, another third-fastest time on stage three was followed by a second-fastest time on stage six. These three impressive runs pushed them back up to third overall and more importantly, they were now the first of the BRC crews ahead of the day’s final loop of three stages.
However, the Welshmen’s charge was diluted a little due to a puncture on stage seven, which allowed their arch BRC rivals Matt Edwards/Patrick Walsh to nip past. Another third fastest time on stage eight meant Tom and James ended the day fourth overall and second BRC crew, albeit by a slender 6.8 seconds.
In contrast to the previous day, Sunday dawned dry and bright and Tom and James focused on the task in hand: to get back ahead of Edwards/Walsh. And on stage 10 – the first of the day – that’s exactly what they did, with a second fastest overall time that elevated them into third place overall and put them 1.2 seconds ahead of their BRC rivals.
But over the next two stages Edwards/Walsh fought back and at the lunchtime service halt, Tom and James were 1.4 seconds behind. With a re-run of the morning’s three stages remaining, the Welsh pair knew exactly what they had to do…
They were fastest overall through the next stage, beating their rivals by 1.4 seconds and therefore, putting them dead-level to the tenth of a second! But Tom and James were not finished yet and another fastest overall time through stage 14 pushed them ahead by 4.9 seconds.
It was now all down to the final stage and, with Edwards/Walsh ony 0.1 second quicker, the outcome was settled: Tom and James had won the BRC battle by 4.8 seconds and in doing so, scored maximum championship points and provided the Hyundai i20 R5 with its first ever British Rally Championship victory. At the finish a delighted Tom said:
“It feels brilliant to win a round of the British Rally Championship again. We had an intense battle with Matt and Patrick throughout the event and that meant we really had to fight hard to come out on top.
“The first day was very challenging as we were also battling against the elements, but having taken some fastest BRC times I knew the pace was there. We ended Saturday in a good position for Sunday’s stages and on the dry roads I was able to push even harder. The Hyundai felt great and the Michelin tyres were working perfectly, so once we were in front I felt confident we could hang on to the lead.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend and this result really has put my championship title chase back on track. I must thank James Morgan for doing a great job and the PCRS team for providing me with such a good car. I must also congratulate the rally organisers for putting on such a well-run event and the marshals for sticking with it in the wind and rain on Saturday morning. I must also extend a special thanks to all of our supporting partners. This result is for them.”
The next event in the British Rally Championship calendar is the Carlisle-based Pirelli Rally, which takes place on 27th April and sees the surface change back to gravel, as competitors take on the notoriously demanding high-speed stages in Kielder Forest.
Tom’s 2019 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: Trailhead Fine Foods and their Get Jerky snack brand, Cambrian Training, Michelin Motorsport, H.N. Nuttall Foodservice, Go Fetch Ltd, Intervino, Castell Howell, Atech Racing, Walero and Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing.
Tom Cave from Aberdovey aims to get his British Rally championship title challenge back on track this coming weekend (16th & 17th March) when he heads to Southern Ireland for round two, the Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally. He will be joined on this occasion by his co-driver for the past three seasons James Morgan from Hirwaun, who sits in for Dale Bowen who is unable to partner Tom this weekend.
The Clonakilty-based event represents the first ever round of the British Championship to be held solely in the Republic of Ireland. It will also be the first asphalt event of the season for Tom, who will be looking to replicate his performance from the first round – February’s Cambrian Rally – but not the result. Whilst he and Dale set a series of front-running times and were challenging for the lead on the final loop of stages in the North Wales forests, three consecutive punctures meant they were unable to make it to the finish.
Tom will be driving the same Philip Case Rally Sport prepared Hyundai i20 R5 that he used for the opening round, with the team having re-prepared the car and changed the set-up from gravel to asphalt specification.
To ensure he hits the ground running this weekend, Tom tested the car on Tuesday and was delighted with outcome:
“The PCRS guys did a great job of setting up the Hyundai for asphalt, which meant there was very little to do to get the car handling perfectly. However, Storm Gareth made things interesting: we had sun, wind, rain and hail in the space of a couple of hours. It was an ideal scenario actually, as we’re likely to encounter a mixed bag of conditions at the weekend.”
Seeded at #12, Tom and James will not only be up against an entry of top British Championship crews, but those from the Irish Tarmac Championship too. Intent on getting his title hopes back on track, Tom will be 100% focused on scoring BRC points.
“Whilst the result of the Cambrian wasn’t what we wanted, the performance of the stages and the reliability of the car absolutely was. I therefore head to West Cork confident in the knowledge that we can challenge at the front of the field – especially following the outcome of this week’s test. I’m really looking forward to driving the Hyundai on asphalt for the first time since the summer of 2017.
The West Cork Rally starts from Clonakilty at 10.00 on Saturday and sees the 200-strong field contest nine stages during the day. A further six take place on Sunday – St Patrick’s Day – with the first car scheduled to reach the finish back in the host town at 16.30 having covered a total of 240 competitive kms.
Tom’s 2019 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: Trailhead Fine Foods and their Get Jerky snack brand, Cambrian Training, Michelin Motorsport, H.N. Nuttall Foodservice, Atech Racing, Walero and Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing. The team is delighted to welcome onboard two new sponsors for this event: Go Fetch, pet relocation specialists and Intervino, letterbox wine and personalised gift providers.
British Rally Championship Round One – Report
Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally – 16th February 2019
On the opening round of this year’s British Rally Championship – Saturday’s (16th February) Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally – Tom Cave and co-driver Dale Bowen clearly established themselves as title contenders, when they delivered an impressive front-running performance on all of the event’s ten stages. However, three punctures in the final two stages meant they were unable to complete the road section to the finish line in Llandudno – an underserved end to an otherwise well-judged and faultless day’s competition.
For Tom (from Aberdovey), the Northwest Wales event represented the start of new season, in a new car, with a new co-driver, who is relishing the opportunity of contesting a full season in this year’s British Rally Championship. Following a highly successful test earlier in the week when he drove the PCRS prepared Hyundai i20 R5 on Michelin tyres for the first time, he and Dale (from Hirwaun) were well prepared to hit the ground running for the first of Saturday’s stages in forests that are synonymous with rallying in the region.
And hit the ground running they did, posting the third-fastest time in the opening stage, a performance that saw the Welsh pair just 3.2 seconds off the then leaders David Bogie/John Rowan and 0.8 seconds from 2018 British Champion Matt Edwards with co-driver Patrick Walsh. Tom and Dale then went on to set equal fastest-time on SS2 and second-fastest on SS3, which meant they held second place – just 5.2 seconds from Edwards/Walsh – when they booked in to the first service halt of the day in Llandudno.
Tom reported all was going exceptionally well, although the stages were more slippery than expected, with varying levels of grip.
With the onset of rain during the second loop of four stages, traction became even more of an issue. Even so, Tom and Dale continued to set top-three times before booking into the second service halt, where the PCRS team fitted spot lamps and a set of softer-compound tyres for the final three-stage loop in the evening.
The nighttime encounter began well, with Tom and Dale beating Edwards/Walsh – who were now in the lead – by nearly two seconds through stage eight. Although being slowed by a puncture about a mile from the finish of SS9, Tom and Dale still held on to their second place as they lined up to start the tenth and final stage.
However, just half-a-mile into the 4.81-mile run through Elsi Forest, a second puncture beset the Hyundai crew, the tyre loosing all of its air immediately. Nevertheless, Tom managed to get the car to the end of the stage and even with the consequential loss of time, he and Dale were fifth and still in a valuable point scoring position.
But there was more frustration to come, when a third puncture manifested itself during the transit section on the way back to the finish control in Llandudno and, with no more spare wheels available, they had no choice but to retire with just a few road miles left to go. It was not the result that the team had anticipated or indeed deserved, following a performance that had all but assured a podium finish, as Tom explains:
“I just can’t believe our rally ended that way. I’ve never experienced three punctures in an event before – let along in two stages!
“However, I’m really pleased with the way things went up until that point. Considering it was the first time in this car, my first event since October’s Wales Rally GB and Dale and I’s first rally together at this level, to be in with a shot of the lead and claim two fastest times, really sets the scene for the season ahead.
“We’ll now investigate what happened, take on board the positives – of which there were many – and regroup so that we’re even better prepared when we travel to Ireland next month.”
The second round of the British Rally Championship is the Clonakilty-based West Cork Rally, which takes place on 15th & 16th March and provides the first asphalt encounter of the season.
Tom’s 2019 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: Trailhead Fine Foods (Get Jerky), Cambrian Training, Michelin Motorsport, H.N. Nuttall Foodservice, Atech Racing, Walero and Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing.
Photo: Chicane Media
Welsh Rally driver Tom Cave is pleased to confirm that he will compete for honours in this year’s British Rally Championship. He will contest all of the season’s six rounds behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 R5, supplied and prepared by the PCRS team that ran a similar car for Tom on the Wales Rally GB in October.
The 2019 British Rally Championship season kicks off on Saturday 16th February with the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, when Tom will be joined by fellow Welshman Dale Bowen as co-driver.
“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make this year happen, so I’m delighted that everything has come together just in time for the first round and I really have to thank everyone who is supporting our campaign this season.
“Having been runner up in 2012 and 2016 and third in 2013, the British Championship is something I would really like on my CV, so it’s great to have the opportunity to challenge for the title this year.”
Support for the season comes from Trailhead Fine Foods, who teamed up with Tom for last year’s Rally GB to launch their new Get Jerky range of snacks. Also continuing their backing from 2018 is Manchester-based HN Nuttall Foodservice, Atech Racing and Walero. Adding their names to the list of supporting partners are Michelin Motorsport and Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing.
“Philip Case Rally Sport are supplying and running the car for the whole season. We worked very well together on Rally GB, so it makes complete sense to continue the association.
“I’m delighted to be back in a Hyundai and, after my previous outings in the i20, I feel very much at home in the car. With the upgrades that have been made over the two years since I first drove it on the Pirelli Rally in 2017, I think we can really push for the title this year. I can’t wait to get started, especially as the first round is my home event!”
The Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally gets underway at 8.00am from Mostyn Street in Llandudno. Tom and Dale will be the fourth British Championship crew to leave the start before heading into a series of North Wales forests that are synonymous with the sport of rallying.
The route, which comprises 66 competitive miles, features three stages in the morning followed by a service halt in Llandudno. A further five stages take place in the afternoon followed by another service halt and, for BRC competitors, an additional two nighttime stages before the event finishes where it began later that evening.