A storming second place on this weekend's Jim Clark Rally, the fourth round of the MSA British Rally Championship, by Tom Cave and co-driver Craig Parry saw Cave retake the lead of the championship overall, tying with fellow Welshman Elfyn Evans at the head of the tables.
The Jim Clark Rally is unique on the UK mainland - it is the only event using closed public roads and the tarmac stages have a fierce reputation.
The event began with two runs around the famous Duns town centre stage and Cave took these very easy, acutely aware that while there was little to be gained on the two 1.2mile stages, there was plenty of opportunity to lose time and a good result. A spin on the first of the two for Tom cost him around 10 seconds and he took the second run easy to prevent any more mistakes.
On paper, it looked as though they had taken it too easy, lying 16th overall as the crews headed towards the first of Saturday's eight stages. However, the balance was soon redressed, as Tom and Craig went third fastest on the next two stages, followed by a second-fastest and eventually, a stage win on the last of the morning's four stages, to arrive at the mid-day service in second place overall.
They took the stage win on the first of the afternoon's stages also, a repeat of the morning's win and claimed second-fastest to former double BRC Champion Keith Cronin on the remainder of the day's stages, to reach the end of the first day in a strong second place, a minute adrift of Cronin but more importantly, more than a minute ahead of Jonathan Greer in third.
Tom and Craig began Sunday as they meant to go on, claiming the stage win on the opening test before being caught out by unexpected rain on the second of the day. However, Cronin lost even more time, putting him a tantalising 32 seconds in front of Tom.
With three stages to go, Tom decided to push to try to catch Cronin and overhaul him for the win. However, on the first of the day's last loop of three stages, Tom was again hampered by rain, which started to fall as he started the stage. Because he was on hard tyres, against Cronin's softs and the latter on dry roads, he could not close the gap, losing time on the first four miles of the stage, unable to get heat into the tyres.
With two stages to go, Tom and Craig decided to safeguard the result and ensure that they claimed the best possible points haul without taking any risks. Therefore, they reduced their pace for the last two tests and arrived at the event finish in Duns in second place. As a result, they now share the lead of the BRC tables after four rounds with Elfyn Evans, one of Tom's long-time friends.
Commenting, Tom said: "It was a hard weekend but a very good result for the championship. I'm really glad that we managed to climb back up to the top of the championship leaderboard after a good rally - everything seemed to click and while it looked like we might be able to be closer to Keith, a couple of bouts of rain meant we couldn't.
"We had a small spin on the opening stage so I made sure that we had a clean rally after that and didn't make any mistakes - if you lose time, it would be very hard to make it back up again. Saturday went very well for us - we were consistently quick and that was just what I wanted to achieve.
"Sunday was a bit more of a day; we lost time when it started to rain for us, Keith and two more cars on Stage 11 but in stage 12, I saw that Keith spun - I could see his tyre marks and grass on the road and then, on top of a plateau, I could see him maybe 25 seconds ahead of us, so I knew we'd closed on him.
"I took hard tyres for the last three stages, as the information we had was it would be dry. Keith took softs and literally as we engaged first gear for the start of Stage 13, it started to rain, for the first four miles of the stage. I couldn't get any heat into the tyres and could see that he was able to brake 30-40 metres later into the early corners than I could. By that point, I realised we weren't going to catch him, so we decided to settle for second, which was a great result.
"It's been a really tough few weeks for me and the family after Dad died, so this result has given us a little moment to smile about."
The BRC now takes its traditional summer break, with 11 weeks until the next event, the Toddsleap International Rally in Ulster, Northern Ireland.