Welsh rally driver Tom Cave celebrated his 23rd birthday in style today by finishing the 2014 Wales Rally GB in 15th place overall and fourth in the WRC2 category. Partnered by Craig Parry and supported by the Trefeddian Hotel and Morris Lubricants, they brought their Dom Buckley Motorsport-prepared Ford Fiesta R5 to the finish ramp after three days of intensely difficult competition on the Welsh gravel stages.
It was clear from the recce that considerable pre-event rain had made the stages extremely wet and they would likely be slippery and treacherous come the start of the rally, despite mainly dry weather for the actual three days of competition.
The first day of competition took Tom close to his home of Aberdovey but problems were soon to arise. By the end of the day's third stage, his engine was misfiring and a failing turbocharger wastegate actuator was diagnosed as the problem. However, with only remote service in Newtown available and no spare in the car (the service crew are only allowed to use parts carried in the rally car), they were forced to try to drive round the problem as much as possible for the rest of the day. As a result, they ended Friday fifth in the WRC class.
Saturday morning was again dry but the stages were very tricky and Tom began with a conservative pace, since he felt that his notes weren't perfect for the conditions. He made several changes to the Fiesta's suspension at the mid-day service to cope with the expected rough conditions for the second run but unfortunately, these did not work and he lost time to drivers around him. He spoke to the team and they advised what changes he could make while en route to try to improve the grip and these worked, with his pace increasing throughout the afternoon, culminating in a stage win on the last test of the day.
This helped to promote Tom and Craig to fourth in class with one more day of competition to go and a tantalising 20 seconds covering second to fourth in the WRC2 class.
Tom and Craig attacked the first two stages of the day but the level of competition was so fierce that they were unable to reduce the gap significantly to the two drivers ahead. Instead, they decided to settle for fourth place and a finish on Tom's birthday and his sixth Wales Rally GB.
Speaking at the finish of the rally, Tom said: "I have really enjoyed this weekend - it's been great fun and I'm very pleased to finish my sixth Wales Rally GB. And I'm very happy to be in the top 15.
"The conditions this weekend were incredibly tricky - perhaps the toughest I have seen them. It is a shame that we dropped the time we did on Friday with the misfire as I think that was critical to the result. But that's rallying and I'm very pleased to be here at the finish.
"It's a great way to round off the season and I'd like to thank Craig for all his efforts, as well as the Trefeddian hotel, Morris Lubricants and HN Nuttal Food Services for their support in getting us here. The guys from Dom Buckley Motorsport did a perfect job of keeping the car on top form and I am extremely grateful to them all."