For the second year running, Welsh driver Tom Cave has finished runner-up in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy after chasing down the title until the very last loop of stages today at Rally de España.
However, his chances of victory took a knock on the second test on Sunday morning as he dropped over eight minutes after sliding off the road in his charge to top the time-sheets.
The Aberdovey driver and Oswestry co-driver Craig Parry came to the championship climax in Spain locked in a four-way battle for the title and its huge prize drive of a fully-funded season in next year’s FIA World Rally Championship. And, with double points on offer at the finale, the pair had a strong chance to push for victory.
They arrived chasing championship leader Marius Aasen from Norway but were hampered just three stages into the event on Friday after getting caught behind fellow championship contender Max Vatanen while in the lead. Stuck in the ailing driver’s dust, 23-year-old Cave lost over 40 seconds and dropped from first to fifth place.
He charged back, setting five fastest times during the day, to move up to second in the championship race at the end of Friday’s gravel section.
The only mixed-surface event of the season then switched to asphalt for the remaining two days and Cave set about his race for the top. But a slight loss of power thwarted his challenge during the morning loop of four stages in the hills around Tarragona. He went on to set three quickest times and finish the day 27.8 seconds behind the leader.
Undeterred, Cave continued his charge today but slid off the road on stage 19 and dropped over eight minutes as spectators rushed to help him back on. The challenge was effectively over and Cave cruised home to finish behind Aasen.
The heart-breaking result saw him finish runner-up in the series for the second successive season.
Rally de España kicked off on Thursday night with a race through the streets of Barcelona. The action switched to the holiday resort of Salou on the Costa Daurada where Cave then tackled 331km of technical stages over the weekend.
His focus moves to Wales Rally GB, the final round of the WRC in November, where he will tackle his home round of the world series at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R5.
Tom Cave said: “I tried hard this weekend and really gave it my best shot but it wasn’t to be. It’s been a very challenging year, more so than 2014, and it was an unknown with the new car and competition. We had the pace here this weekend and set good times on both gravel and Tarmac.
“Despite not winning the championship, it’s been a really positive season for me and I’ve definitely progressed as a driver with the experience I’ve gained over the five events.”