Current British Rally Championship leader Tom Cave will represent the PROTON Motorsports factory team when he drives a Proton Satria Neo S2000 on this month's Rally of Thailand.
The event, which starts on Friday June 29, will be Cave's first outing as an official driver for the Malaysian manufacturer, although he and co-driver Craig Parry are no strangers to PROTON. Tom drove a privately-owned and works-supported Satria S2000 on selected FIA World Rally Championship and Intercontinental Rally Challenge events in 2010 and demonstrated comparable pace to works drivers Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson.
It's that existing relationship - and Tom's burgeoning speed - which made the 20 year-old Welshman the perfect fit for the Chai Badan-based Rally of Thailand.
PROTON Motorsports team principal Chris Mellors said: "We have worked with Tom before and got on very well with him, so it makes sense for him to join us for Thailand. We are hoping to work with him later in the year, so Rally of Thailand is a good opportunity for us to renew that relationship. It's also a good chance for Tom to get in the car and chase his first international win outside the UK in a PROTON."
Tom Cave said: "I am thrilled and honoured to have been chosen to drive for the PROTON Motorsports team on Rally of Thailand. I am extremely grateful to Chris for the faith he has placed in me for this event and for giving me my first works drive. I'm a little apprehensive as well! It's going to be a big challenge for both myself and Craig - I've never been to Thailand before and have no idea of what to expect but I relish the challenge and the opportunity and hope that we can get a good result for Proton.
"I do have experience of the car, so that's one less thing to worry about. And while I'm sure the latest-specification Satria will feel familiar, I also know that the team has carried out a lot of development work since we last drove it competitively.
"We arrive in Thailand on Monday afternoon (June 25) for a pre-event test on Tuesday, before two days of the recce on Wednesday and Thursday. Then there is a short stage on Friday before a huge stage to start the event proper on Saturday morning. It's going to be a real eye-opener, that's for sure.
"We built up a good relationship with the PROTON Motorsports team in 2010 and we know them fairly well. They are a great bunch of lads - very supportive and professional and I can't wait to join them as an official driver."
Tom's name will be in good company on the entry list for the event; former winners of the rally include the late Colin McRae and Possum Bourne, Kenneth Eriksson and four-time WRC champion, Tommi Makinen.
Rally of Thailand is based in the town of Chai Badan, approximately 250Km north of Bangkok, in the Lop Buri region. Using gravel and tarmac roads, the rally sees the crews compete over 13 stages, totalling 220Km. The event begins with a short superspecial stage close to the event base on the Saha Farms complex on the evening of Friday 29 June before seven stages on Saturday 30 June. There are five more stages on Sunday 1 July, with a second run through the superspecial to close the event. The first crews will arrive at the finish ramp at 16.30 local-time. Thailand is BST+6 hours and will be in its rainy season as the rally takes place.