Welsh rally driver Tom Cave will take another step in to the unknown next week, when he takes part in the fourth round of the 2014 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, Rally Germany. Currently second in the standings, the 22 year-old is relishing the switch from gravel to asphalt for this and the final round of the series, one of his favoured surfaces.
Tom and co-driver Craig Parry clearly demonstrated the benefits of a good recce on the last round, Rally Finland, at the wheel of their Morris Lubricants supported and equipped Ford Fiesta R2. They were convincingly leading the DDFT class at the end of the second day before being held up by another car and eventually, retiring with suspension damage. However, Tom was pleased with his pace on what is considered one of the most difficult rallies to compete on for the first time.
Germany will be another first for Tom, as he has never contested the event before. However, he has spent the interim period between Finland and Germany - admittedly only three weeks - studying the video produced by the organisers of the stages, to get a feeling for not only the route but the surface changes, one of the characteristics for which the event is famous.
Despite never having been, he is feeling confident, notably after his performance in Finland as well as previous experiences on asphalt. He has numerous events under his belt, including on the British Rally Championship and in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, where he was team-mate to Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson in the S2000 Proton team and matched their pace on the famous Ypres rally in Belgium.
Tom and Craig will be preparing for the event with a two-day test in the UK before heading for Trier. Here, they will concentrate on braking techniques as well as an extended run over a long loop to assess how the DMACK tyres will perform on the longer stages.
Commenting, Tom said: "I'm really looking forward to Germany; It's another new rally for me so I will need to concentrate on a really good recce and get a good set of notes, as we did in Finland.
"One thing we really need to work on is the changes in surface. The weather can be very changeable with wet and dry conditions in the same stage so it will be crucial to know how the grip might change - and where.
"Tarmac is a good surface for me and I know I can be quick on it. Back in 2010 when I was in the Proton S2000, I was trading times with Alister and Chris in Belgium on two events and I had a lot less experience then.
"The stages and the infamous Hinkelsteins don't faze me. As long as I make sure I have any really bad parts in my notes, then we should be OK. I think if the weather remains nice, then it will be a very enjoyable event.
"The feeling is the same as before Finland and of course, the aim is also the same - to win. I think the pre-event test will be useful but we might also see a change in the dynamics of the series with drivers with more tarmac experience closer to the front. But whatever happens, it will be very competitive and we will have to push from the word go, as usual."
Rally Germany begins on the evening of Thursday 21 August with a ceremonial start in the town of Trier, in front of the famous Porta Nigra in the town centre. Friday takes the crews west of Trier, towards the famous vineyards on the banks of the river Mosel with narrow roads and numerous junctions.
Saturday takes the crews east through the vineyards to the infamous Baumholder military ranges for the legendary Panzerplatte stage, more than 42Km in length and lined with the fabled Hinkelsteins - huge concrete blocks - designed to keep tanks on the road.
Sunday sees more action in the vineyards before the ceremonial finish of the event, again in Trier at around 14.30 local time. Germany is GMT +2 hours.