Determined performance for Tom Cave in WRCar debut
Teenage rally driver Tom Cave put in a determined performance on this weekend's Cambrian Rally, the finale of the BTRDA Rally Championship. Driving the Mitsubishi Lancer World Rally Car, Cave and co-driver Craig Parry overcame a mechanical issue to claim a sensational second overall and narrowly missed the outright victory. Having sewn-up the Production Cup of the series by the penultimate round, 19 year-old Cave was looking to climb in the overall Gold Star standing and secured the MML Sports-run Lancer as the best chance to do this. A pre-event test went very well, with Cave settling into the car quickly, aided by the MML Sports team and vastly-experienced co-driver Parry. Going in to the rally, they and the team were feeling good for a decent result. However, before the event even began, a clutch problem was diagnosed and the technicians changed the clutch unit in a staggering two minutes. But it then transpired that a bearing within the gearbox was failing and that clutch would not disengage. The Lancer WRC only requires the clutch to get off the line: once moving, it relies on hydraulic sequential transmission to operate. However, this meant that Tom lost around 10 seconds at every stage start, with the engine stalling as he selected first gear, meaning he had to start the engine with the car in gear and get it rolling before activating the full stage settings. Despite this, Tom and Craig set excellent stage times, joint fastest on the first stage, claiming the scratch time on two more stages and led overall after three timed tests. In fact, they were only out of the top three on stage times once throughout the eight-stage event and reached the finish second overall, just nine seconds behind winner Shaun Gardener and as first placed world rally car, ahead of a further four WRCars. Commenting, Tom said: "It's been a bit of a mixed weekend for us, really. On the first hand, it's frustrating to have had the problem with the clutch all day and miss out on the overall win by a handful of seconds, particularly as we dropped far more with the problems. "It didn't help that on the last stage, we ended up catching a car in the stage. The Great Orme stage was being double-run, so cars were starting at 30-second intervals for the second running and we caught a car with a couple of miles to go. We couldn't get past and at that point, I knew the rally was over. "It was a very tough day, more mentally than anything else. I had to keep calm to get the car going, then give it everything but the competition was so close, that we weren't able to get the win that we'd set out sights on. "Having said that, it's been an amazing experience to drive the Lancer WRC and I'm pleased with the pace we were able to show once we got rolling, especially with only a morning in the car before the start of the rally. It was fantastic to drive - very easy to get along with and as the times show, very quick. A really good, sorted car. "The MML Sports team was fantastic - the lads worked really hard to get the transmission problems sorted and were spot on all day."