Young Welsh rally driver Tom Cave, from Aberdovey, knows that it is win or bust as he approaches the fifth and final round of the 2014 Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, RACC Rallye de España. Currently lying second in the standings, only Tom and leader Sander Parn can win the series and with it, the prize of a seven-round campaign in the 2015 WRC2 championship, courtesy of DMACK Tyres.
After four rounds, three on gravel and one on asphalt, which Tom won, Parn in the lead and Tom are separated by 29 points. However, there are a total of 42 points available on Rally de España, with 25 points for the event win and an additional point for every stage win over the 17 stages that make up the event. Therefore, while Tom has it all to do, it is still certainly achievable.
As it was on Rally Germany nine weeks ago, a good recce for Tom and co-driver Craig Parry will be essential. On that occasion, they were able to win the class and take a good haul of stage wins on their first attempt at the event. Tom has been to Spain before but only as a spectator so while he has an idea of the conditions from outside the car, the first day of the recce will be his first taste of the Spanish stages.
This year's event features one day, and six stages, of primarily gravel followed by two days and ten stages on the event's famous fast, flowing and smooth asphalt roads. The first day features sections of asphalt within the gravel stages but the second and third days are pure tarmac, so the M-Sport technicians, which run the cars, will convert Tom's Morris Lubricants supported and equipped Ford Fiesta R2 from gravel to asphalt specification on Friday evening.
Saturday of the event also features the longest stage of the rally, the 50Km Escaladei classic to mark the 50th anniversary of the event, as well as a short superspecial along the seafront in event base Salou that evening.
Speaking ahead of the event, Tom said; "It's really win or bust for us this weekend. We have to win the rally and as many stages as possible to stand a chance of taking the title.
"A gap of 29 points is a lot to close up but all it takes is a problem for Sander [Parn] and he's on the back foot for the rest of the rally.
"We need to be on full attack from the word go to get as many stage wins as we can. We know it's not easy in this series - there are so many quick drivers - but we proved our pace on asphalt in Germany so there's no reason to think we can't be on the pace in Spain.
"Having the first day on gravel and the remaining two on tarmac is a new challenge for me but it shouldn't cause us any problems. Like we did in Germany, having a really good recce is absolutely crucial and if we get the right detail, we should be OK.
"Driving on asphalt on gravel suspension and tyres will probably be a bit strange though!"
The event begins with a run through the streets of Barcelona over what used to be the city's F1 track on the evening of Thursday 23 October. Friday 24 October sees six stages over gravel while Saturday 25 sees six stages of entirely tarmac, culminating in the seafront superspecial. Sunday sees four final stages, run as two loops of two before crews arrive at Salou for the finish ceremony in the early afternoon.