A strong performance by Welsh rally driver Tom Cave on this weekend's Rally Poland netted the 22 year-old a useful haul of points for his campaign in the 2014 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. Cave and co-driver Craig Parry brought their Morris Lubricants-supported Ford Fiesta R2 home in second place after four days of intense competition in the Polish 'lake district' region around the event base of Mikolajki.
Cave and the other DDFT drivers took part in their own pre-event test prior to the start of the event, which saw three stages on Thursday afternoon and evening, culminating with the first of four runs on the Mikolajki Arena superspecial stage.
Having finished second on the season-opener in Portugal to Estonian Sander Parn, Tom immediately set his stall out, going second fastest on the first stage but claiming the win with a near-10 second margin on the second, to head the DDFT field at the end of the first day.
Day two - Friday - saw the event take the FIA World Rally Championship to Lithuania for the first time ever with two stages run twice, either side of the day's sole remote service. Tom took the win on the first stage of the day, run in Poland on the way to Lithuania before discovering what many drivers already knew.
The soft sandy roads in Lithuania had become extremely rough and rutted with the passing of the earlier, four wheel-drive cars and as such, the conditions were appalling. The DDFT drivers spoke of ruts a foot (300mm) deep and fan photos showed this was no exaggeration. Tom adopted a cautious approach to reach the midday service with no problems, having dropped behind Parn.
The second running of the Lithuanian stages was cancelled on safety grounds and so the crews returned to Poland for another run over the superspecial stage.
The third day saw more dramas throughout the DDFT field, with several drivers suffering problems. The net result meant that the gap behind Tom to third was more than two minutes so it looked like a two-way fight between him and Parn for the remainder of the day and possibly, the event.
This longest stage was where Tom began his fightback, claiming the win with a margin of almost 15 seconds, to close the gap to Parn to just over 20s. However, Parn responded on the next two stages while Tom again took the win on the second run of the long stage, meaning the two were separated by just 27 seconds with four stages to go on the final day.
Overnight rain meant that the last four stages on Sunday would be damp in places and wet in others. With his second podium finish in sight, Tom started the day with a push to see whether the win - tantalisingly close - was within his grasp. Parn took the advantage on the first and Tom on the second so that, approaching the final stage of the event, the 14.90Km Baranowo Power Stage, Parn maintained the 27s lead over Tom.
As it transpired, he went through the final timed test slightly quicker than Tom, who claimed his second runners-up result in the DDFT in as many events, completing 30s behind Parn.
Commenting at the finish, Tom said; "I'm pleased with second here this weekend and our second podium finish of the series so far. It's really important to be consistent in a series like this and I'm very happy.
"I'm also happy that we showed we have the pace to be fighting at the front. Sander was very quick here this weekend and we had a really good battle and I'm encouraged that we were able to trade times.
"The car has been perfect all weekend and I'm glad that we had a clean run, particularly after the roll in Portugal.
"I'm really looking forward to Finland now, especially after this weekend and showing the pace that we have. The stages there are quite similar to here and I really enjoyed these high speed roads, so I am very excited."
2014 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy results after Rally Poland
1 Sander Parn 59
2 Tom Cave 40
3 Yeray Lemes 32
4 Jose Suarez 18
5 Szymon Kornicki 18
6 Max Vatanen 16
7 Ghislain de Mevius 15
8 Marius Aasen 13
9 Nicolas Amiouni 8
10 Nil Solans 6
11 Leo Urlichich 4
12 Quentin Gilbert 2