Young rally driver Tom Cave will step his 2012 rally campaign up a gear next weekend, when he tackles the Bulldog Rally, his 'home' round of the British Rally Championship in his brand new Citroen DS3 R3 rally car. Not only will the youngster, partnered by Craig Parry, be looking for a solid points haul for the BRC, he will also be looking for success in the newly-announced Citroen Racing Trophy, the one-make series offering significant prizes.
Tom drove a rented Ford Fiesta R2 on the BRC season-opener, the Sunseeker Rallye in February as his Citroen hadn't even landed in the UK by the time the event began. However, the car is now here, has been converted from tarmac to gravel specification by DMS, had its livery applied and is ready for the pre-event test that Tom will be carrying out on the Tuesday of rally week.
While Tom has yet to drive the DS3, he is deliberately leaving the test to just before the event, so that he arrives in the car fresh and can immediately take everything he learns forward to the event.
The Citroen Racing Trophy takes place over all six rounds of the BRC and offers drivers not only the chance of a genuine championship but also, significant prize money. First place overall for a driver of a Citroen DS3 R3 on each event wins €6000, second is worth €3500 and third, €1500. At the end of the season, the winning Trophy driver under 23 gets €10,000 towards an entry into the Rallye du Var while the winner over 23 claims an additional €5000.
Commenting, Toms said; "I'm really looking forward to getting out in the Citroen. Is a very serious rally car and I'm very excited to be driving it in not only the BRC but also, the Citroen Racing Trophy. The prize money is, of course, a fantastic incentive and will definitely help our campaign if we can get some good results.
"Driving the Citroen will be a fresh challenge for me as it's very different to what I'm used to but I'm really looking forward to it. We'll have a pre-event test just before the start of the rally so that it all remains as fresh as possible for when we start the first stage but I'm very excited."
The Bulldog Rally is effectively Tom's home round of the BRC, since it's based in Welshpool and uses stages close to Aberdovey, home to him and sponsor, the Trefeddian Hotel. Despite this though, he doesn't have a vast amount of experience of the stages and will be starting the pre-event recce from scratch, with no existing pace notes.
However, he does know that the stages will be tricky, as his 2011 event came to an abrupt halt when he went off the road on the first timed test. "That stage, the first last year, runs as the last one this year, so by the time we get to it, hopefully I will have felt my way into the car and won't have any problems. I think we'll settle in on the Friday night stage and then up the game a little on Saturday.
"The plan is to target a podium finish. I think that we will look at where we are on Saturday and if we're in touch with the leaders, then we'll push for that result. We need to grab as many points as we can for the BRC standings and of course, do as well in the Trophy as we can."
The event begins with the traditional ceremonial start in Welshpool centre on the evening of Friday 23 March, before two runs through the Dyfant stage in falling light. Following an overnight halt, the crews then face nine further stages on Saturday 24 March, including two runs through the gruelling 15-mile Gartheiniog test. The first crews are expected to reach the finish podium at 19.00hrs on Saturday.