Aberdovey’s Tom Cave is one of four top young rally drivers chasing the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy title and the prize drive of a fully-funded season in the FIA World Rally Championship, when the series reaches its exciting climax at Rally de España next week.
Even though he currently sits in third place in the series, 17 points off leader Marius Aasen from Norway, 23-year-old Cave goes into the final round with a strong fighting chance, as double points are on offer for the mixed surface event.
Rally de España is the only event on the season which features both gravel and Tarmac stages, but Cave and Oswestry-based co-driver Craig Parry are confident after putting on a strong display on last year’s event. They finished championship runners-up and aim to go one better when the exciting finale kicks off from Barcelona on Thursday night.
The four drivers in contention have each won a round of the DMACK Trophy. Cave stole the show at Rally Finland in August after mastering the high-speed gravel stages and stomach-churning jumps. However, the mixed format in Spain will provide a stern test as he must switch from sideways gravel driving to smooth Tarmac lines after Friday’s opening day.
After a sprint stage through the streets of Barcelona on Thursday evening, Cave and Parry will tackle eight rough gravel tests in their Ford Fiesta R2 on Friday. With no service, just a mid-day tyre change and two passes over the 35.68km Terra Alta stage, it’s set to be a demanding day.
During a specially extended evening service, the M-Sport team will then switch his car to Tarmac specification by replacing suspension components and adding bigger brakes. Equipped with a choice of two compounds of DMACK’s asphalt tyre, Cave and Parry will tackle eight Tarmac stages on Saturday and six on Sunday.
The 331km of action over the weekend will be played out high in the Tarragona hills, overlooking the rally base in the holiday resort of Salou on the Costa Daurada.
Cave said: “Winning the trophy would be a great reward for all the hard work and effort Craig and I have put in over the last few years; it would mean a lot to us. I aim to be well prepared and up to speed for the final event as we are taking part in a national rally in Wales the day before flying off to Spain.
“The alternating surfaces will be a unique challenge as you need to change your rhythm and strategy overnight; it’s a challenge I enjoy. We finished well here last year with fast stage times, so that gives me added confidence. I know that we need to be fast to win stages but, with the double points on offer, I also need to ensure we have a mistake-free event and keep as high up the time-sheets as possible.”