After what feels like a very long winter break, rally driver Tom Delaney is looking forward to the start of the 2015 Formula1000 Junior Championship season this weekend. The 15 year-old has just completed the rebuild and pre-season test on his one-litre Suzuki Alto and is raring to get back into the driving seat for an almost full season of competition.
Almost because this is Tom's final year at school and while he has already shown promise in the rally car, his education is the highest priority this year. As such, there are two events that he is unable to contest due to the proximity to exams. However, this means that there are seven rallies where he can - and aims to - score, with the best six scores from eight starts counting to the title.
The series' official test took place at the weekend and was Tom's first chance to get behind the wheel of the re-prepared Suzuki after he and father Dominic rebuilt it over the winter, in Dominic's business workshop at Specialised Vehicle Services. Dominic has a huge amount of experience in rally car preparation and used this in putting Tom's car together, with a huge attention to detail to ensure that it would be both reliable and competitive throughout the season.
Both Tom and Dom were pleased with the results at the test, with Tom putting in consistent performances over the short test stage. It also gave a good opportunity for Tom to get back in the car with co-driver Joe Cruttenden, who co-drove for him on two events in 2014 and will partner for the whole season this year.
Commenting, Tom said: "It was great to get back into the car at the test. It feels like a very long time since I was last in the driving seat but the car felt great - a lot more lively than last year and I can't wait for the season to get going."
Dominic said: "I think we did a good job with the car over the winter. There was nothing earth-shattering - just putting it together properly and setting it up nicely to suit Tom and his driving style. He said the car felt very nice after the test and he was clearly very confident in it, so I'm really keen to see how he can go in it this year.
"He'll be missing a couple of rallies because of his exams but this year is about learning the events ready for an all-out assault on the title next season, which will be the last year he is eligible to compete."
The first round is this coming weekend, the Roskirk Stages Rally at the Three Sisters circuit near Wigan. It's a relatively short event - around 26 stage miles - but one which will see the crews hitting the ground running, with up to 12 stages during the course of the one-day rally.