Welsh rally driver Tom Cave is aiming to end his season on a high on next weekend's Wales Rally of Great Britain, the finale of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship. Having narrowly missed out on this year's Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, 22 year-old Cave will return to his native Wales to contest the event for the sixth time since his debut in the WRC at the age of 17 in 2008.
The traditional season closer is one of Cave's favourite events; hardly surprising since it was one of the first he spectated on and was also the first he competed on, in 2008 at the wheel of his Group N Ford Fiesta ST. Since then he has driven his own Proton Satria Neo S2000 as well as one of the official Proton team's cars, finishing second in S-WRC in 2012.
His best performance was in 2013, when he drove a Ford Fiesta R5 for the first time. He was denied the result he wanted by lateness penalties incurred by the service team but still won five of the six stages that made up the first full day of competition, beating fellow Welshmen Elfyn Evans and Mark Higgins in the process.
For 2014, he will again be driving a Ford Fiesta R5, this time run by the vastly experienced Dom Buckley Motorsport team. With decades of experience, particularly on Ford models, the team will ensure that Tom and co-driver Craig Parry have the right tools and support to be able to show their best performance.
Commenting, Tom said; "We have one goal in Wales and that is to win the class and show that we can compete at the highest level of the sport. Last year we showed we had the speed to be able to do that and with the Buckley team behind us, I think we can push for the WRC2 win.
"I want to show that we are fast in four wheel-drive as well as two and demonstrate the progression from the DDFT this year to WRC2. I know there will be a fair bit of pressure, with it being our local event but I believe we have the speed and tools to be able to win the class."
Tom will again be supported by Morris Lubricants for Wales Rally GB, as he has been throughout the 2014 DDFT season as well as in 2013. Another major supporter will of course be the family-run Trefeddian Hotel, perched on the stunning west Wales coastline and overlooking the Irish Sea. His campaign will also be supported by HN Nuttal Ltd Foodservice, which supplies dry, chilled and frozen foods to many different sectors of the catering industry.
Tom will also be using DMACK tyres for the second year, having competed on the brand in Wales in 2013 and throughout the course of the 2014 DDFT series.
Competition is likely to be high, with WRC2 leader Nasser Al-Attiyah needing to finish seventh or better to take the 2014 title. However, there is a host of drivers also keen to finish their seasons on a high, with regular drivers Lorenzo Bertelli, Yuriy Protasov, Jari Ketomaa and Karl Kruuda all vying for the title. Tom will also be up against one of his DDFT rivals, Quentin Gilbert, who will be at the wheel of the Fiesta R5 for another outing.
There is also a brace of local talent switching to R5s for the event on a one-off basis, including the return of Matthew Wilson and former British Rally Championship sparring partners David Bogie, Osian Pryce and Martin McCormack, all in Fiesta R5s.
The event begins with a ceremonial start and autograph signing session at the Eirias Stadium in Colwyn Bay on the evening of Thursday 13 November before the first full day of competition on Friday 14, with eight stages run as two loops of four. Based around a remote service halt at Newtown, these include the Sweet Lamb and Hafren stages, favourites from previous years.
Saturday sees the crews based at the service park in Deeside all day and with nine stages; two loops of four with the Chirk Castle superspecial at the end of the first loop. These stages are located closer to the base in Deeside and include Dyfnant and the two Clocaenog tests.
The third and final day comprises six stages, including two runs around the Kinmel Park spectator special and ends with the 11Km Brenig 2 Power Stage before the finish ceremony on the seafront at Llandudno.
The long range weather forecast predicts typical Wales Rally GB weather; a week of wet leading up to the start of the recce, several days of brighter sunlight before the return of the rain in time for the rally itself.
Sunrise is typically 07.40 with sunset around 16.15 throughout the event.