Welsh rally driver Tom Cave is aiming for a top result on his home round of the FIA World Rally Championship this week when the series finale at Wales Rally GB is played out across his local forest stages.
After narrowly missing out on this year’s Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, 23-year-old Cave is aiming to end the year on a high on an event he knows and loves.
It will be Cave’s seventh start at Wales Rally GB and he’s got a strong connection with his home event. He made his WRC debut here at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta ST aged just 17 and in 2013, the home support helped him to a 12th overall finish in a Fiesta R5.
He knows the forest stages across North and Mid Wales well, having won both national and international events run on those roads. Aberdyfi-based Cave and Oswestry co-driver Craig Parry will be looking to use all that experience, and the encouragement of the local fans, as they push for WRC 2 victory in their MSL Motorsport-run Fiesta R5.
While the season-closer is one of Cave’s fondest events, it’s also a huge challenge. The classic forest stages host some ultra-fast, flowing and unforgiving gravel roads, making the rally a favourite with drivers and fans alike.
The muddy tracks demand both precision and commitment and Cave will be depending on DMACK’s gravel tyres to spur on his challenge. The traditional Welsh weather can also come into play with rain and fog toughening the conditions.
The classic event benefitted from a revival in 2013 and is again based at Deeside. After a Thursday evening ceremonial start in Llandudno, Cave and Parry head south early on Friday morning to tackle a three-stage loop, including the Hafren test – the longest of the event at 32.14km. With only a remote tyre fitting zone in Newtown, the loop is repeated without any mid-day service.
Saturday hosts over 142km across nine stages to the west including famous names like Gartheiniog and Dyfi. Sunday brings the event to a close with a loop of four stages, including the asphalt blast around Great Orme, before the finish podium celebrations back in Deeside.
Cave said: “Our goal is to push for victory in WRC 2 and hopefully secure a top-10 finish to show we can compete at the highest level of the sport. It’s always a special feeling to race on your home round of the WRC and I’m lucky to have so much support from the local fans out on the stages – it really does give you that extra edge.
“I know the Friday and Saturday stages pretty well but the conditions can make things tricky. Experience of the stages is so important, one corner can have good grip while the next can be slippery – identifying the grip levels and pushing hard where possible will be key to success next week.”