After proving his speed on the opening round of the 2015 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy in May, Welsh rally driver Tom Cave will be hoping to capitalise on that pace as he aims for victory on round two in Poland this week.
As runners-up in last year’s championship, Aberdovey-based Tom and Oswestry-based co-driver Craig Parry have the bit between their teeth as they charge towards the huge trophy prize of a fully-paid season in next year’s FIA World Rally Championship.
Twenty-three-year-old Cave was one of the series front-runners in 2014 and set the benchmark on the opening round before mechanical issues dropped him out of contention. He finished fifth but holds fourth in the series standings after scoring extra points awarded for individual stage victories.
This week’s event should suit Cave. His rally career started in Latvia at the tender age of 15 and the roads there bear a striking similarity to the stages he will tackle next week. He returns to Mikołajki, a small town set in the middle of the picturesque Masurian Lake District in the north-east of the country, full of confidence after a strong performance last year.
Cave finished second and set four fastest stage times over the course of the weekend. With 11 crews piloting identical Ford Fiesta R2 rally cars, the competition will be every bit as intense.
However, this year’s event has seen a drastic overhaul and features a raft of new stages. The roads are very fast through open countryside and likely to get rutted on the second pass.
Speed and precision is key and Cave has been studying video footage of the stages as he makes his final preparations before the pre-event reconnaissance begins on Tuesday.
After a ceremonial start and spectator-friendly stage on Thursday night, it’s straight to the heart of battle with a full day on Friday, including two passes over the 39km Stanczyki test. The action covers 150km of stages without any opportunity for service or repairs – so a problem-free day is a must.
Saturday features a loop to the east of Mikołajki while Sunday closes with just two stages close to the rally base. Rally Poland is set to attract huge numbers of spectators as rally fans travel from neighbouring European countries to catch a glimpse of the adrenaline-fuelled action.
Cave said: “My pace was strong last year and we set a number of fastest times so I’m hoping we can pick up where we left off. I enjoy the fast stages in Poland and that type of road is where I have the most experience after starting my career off with two seasons in Latvia. Craig has competed a lot in Poland and together we can be confident ahead of the event.
“I’ve been preparing extra-hard for this rally. Everything from boosting my fitness to making sure my nutrition and hydration is at the level it needs to be. I’m leaving nothing to chance for this rally and really have my sights set on pushing for the win and to collect as many extra points as possible for stage wins.”