Tom Cave finished Rally Poland last weekend in 31st position overall and seventh in the N3 class, despite winning all but one stage he drove competitively and a head gasket failure mid-way through the event.
The event began exceptionally well for the youngster and co-driver Craig Parry and they set the fastest N3 and Ford Fiesta time on every stage that formed the first leg, with the exception of just one. In the end they finished the opening day with a lead in the N3 class of almost 1 minute 40 seconds.
On Saturday they continued where they had left off with the fastest time on both of the day's opening stages.
However, approaching the start of the day's third stage, the 30 kilometre Wydminy test, the temperature on their Ford Fiesta ST's engine began to climb and they were forced to stop several times to top up the engine coolant, losing ten minutes in the process.
They then nursed the car back to the service where a faulty thermostat was removed and they headed back out.
It soon transpired though that the head gasket had failed and the crew was forced to retire from the leg, while the DMS technicians set about removing the engine and replacing the head gasket, with help from M-Sport as well as other competitors.
The technicians eventually finished their work at 2am on Sunday morning and placed the car in parc ferme, so that Cave and Parry could restart under the SupeRally regulations. However, the ten minutes lost on SS10 combined with the further 15 minutes of penalties for the three missed stages, dropped them well down the order, to 7th in class.
With the car now back on song, Cave began Sunday in the same groove, keen to demonstrate his pace and repay the efforts of the mechanics and all those who had helped to ensure he could continue.
Cave and Parry picked up where they left off, claiming the stage win in the N3 class on each and every stage that made up the final leg, bringing their total tally over the course of the event to 13 stage wins from 15 stages contested, including where they encountered the engine problems.
By the end of the event, Cave and Parry finished in 31st overall and 7th in N3, just under 16 minutes behind the class winner, having lost 25 minutes in total thanks to the head gasket failure.
“While I'm obviously extremely disappointed that we didn't get the result we hoped for, we can definitely take a lot of positives from this event,” reflected the 17-year-old.