Young rally driver Tom Delaney enjoyed what could best be described as an encouraging first round of the 2015 Junior Formula1000 Championship on the Roskirk Stages rally at Three Sisters near Wigan. The 15-year old spent the morning sufferings spins and offs but then, in the afternoon, set a series of both consistent and competitive stage times to hint at the potential for this year.
After an extensive rebuild over the winter, by both Tom and his father Dominic at his SVP workshop, the first outing for the one-litre Suzuki Alto was eagerly anticipated by all involved. With its new livery and Tom keen to get back behind the wheel following a successful pre-season test, he and co-driver Joe Cruttenden took to the kart circuit where the single venue event was running.
Unfortunately, the weather was not kind to the crews and rain, combined with the residue from years of kart racing, meant that the surface was very slippery.
Once the competitive sections of the event began, it was clear that the car offered much more potential and pace than last season. However, this came at a price; having only competed in four events, Tom was not ready for the improvements in pace and suffered several spins and offs in the first part of the event, including one stage where he was stuck in the mud at the side of the sealed surface for more than 30 seconds.
By the mid-point of the rally and after six stages, he had spent a total of 2 minutes 40 seconds off the road.
With a longer service break at the mid-point for the organisers to change the route for the afternoon, Dominic and Tom had a strategy meeting, which culminated with Tom approaching the afternoon stages in a far more conservative manner. Dom had told him to deliberately drive as slowly as was necessary to ensure that he completed the next stage without any problems, which Tom did, reporting that the time would be "rubbish".
However, it transpired to be the fifth fastest stage time in class, out of 17 entrants and this immediately spurred Tom and the team on to concentrate on completing error-free stages and worry about the times later.
For the remainder of the event, Tom was consistently in the top five stage times and although he ended the event 12th in class, saw the potential.
Commenting, he said; "It all went wrong to start with as I was trying to drive too fast. But once we calmed down a bit and stuck to trying to finish each stage without any problems, it started to go much better. I thought the times were rubbish but actually, they weren't too bad."
Dominic said; "Tom was very eager to get back behind the wheel and to begin with, was clearly over-driving the car. We appear to have made quite a step forward with the car over the winter and of course, he wanted to make the most of that but instead of getting good stage times, the opposite was true. He spent too much time spinning or off the road.
"We had a chat at the mid-point of the rally and I suggested he concentrate on finishing stages rather than trying to be fast and he did just that. As a result, the times started to come. He spent the rest of the day driving purely to get a finish but again, the times were very good and we are both pleased with how that turned out.
"Before the next event, we have some testing and driver tuition planned for Tom, so hopefully he will be able to pick up where he left off."