Welsh rally driver Tom Cave moved up to third in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy after finishing runner-up on the weekend’s second round at Rally Poland.
Aberdovey-based Cave and co-driver Craig Parry, from Oswestry, had been battling for the lead over the entire weekend and lost out by just 10.8 seconds as the battle went down to the final stage.
After demonstrating his speed on the opening round of the trophy in May, Cave continued as one of the series favourites, setting a hat-trick of fastest stage times over the weekend. Such was his consistency and pace, he finished in the top-three on 14 of the 17 competitive stages.
The 23-year-old used his experience of the ultra-fast conditions from last season and quickly settled into a strong pace as he battled against some of the world’s top young rally drivers.
He found his Ford Fiesta R2 was a little soft for the opening loop of stages on Friday morning, which ran close to the Russian border in the far north of Poland. But, after making some adjustments, he was quickly on the front-running pace and aiming for the top spot.
He quickly overhauled Norwegian driver Marius Aasen by mid-day service on Saturday and opened up a lead. However, on the last main stage of the day, he dropped back to second. With no breeze in the air, he faced severe patches of hanging dust and backed off rather than risk making a mistake.
With just two stages to run on Sunday, he pushed but ended up settling for second. The result edges him up the leader-board in the race for the biggest prize in rallying – a fully paid season in 2016.
This weekend’s event was based in the town of Mikołajki, set in the middle of the picturesque Masurian Lake District in the north-east of Poland. The soft, sandy roads saw some crazy speeds with blind crests and high-commitment corners.
The rally suited Cave’s driving style. He grew up rallying in Latvia from the age of 15 and was quickly at home on the smooth gravel.
Round three sees the series move to Finland for one of the most iconic rallies in the world. Neste Oil Rally Finland is a high-speed rollercoaster event and will see Cave battle on some of the most demanding stages in the series.
Cave said: “It’s been an excellent event and I’m very pleased with the result but obviously a little disappointed. I think Saturday was one of my best drives to date, as we were taking time out of Marius all day. The pace was good and we will need that again in Finland.
“The stages here are really rewarding and so much fun to drive, the fast flowing nature really suited my driving style and the atmosphere with so many fans is incredible. I wasn’t entirely happy with the set-up of the car initially so we made some changes and it went much better after that. The car has been excellent all weekend and a real pleasure to drive on these stages.”