Teenage rally driver Tom Cave has concluded a deal which will see him enter a privately-run Proton Sartria Neo S2000 in selected events on the IRC calendar.
Cave will run with support from the Mellors Elliott Motorsport team and run alongside the factory car of Alister McRae.
Prior to an IRC programme that is likely to see him take part in seven events, Cave will contest a number of rallies in the UK to familiarise himself with the Proton having campaigned a Ford Fiesta ST during his career to date.
“I still can't quite believe that I'll be driving an S2000 Proton this year,” he said. “I know it's something that the team had been trying to secure for some time but I didn't think for a moment that it would happen for this year. For the last few months, I have been working on the basis that I would be driving a two wheel-drive car this year, possibly an R2 or R3 car but this is an incredible opportunity.
“Of course, while I'm incredibly excited, I'm also a little apprehensive. I'm not naïve enough to think for a moment that I will be anywhere near the pace of people who have been rallying for almost as long as I have been alive! But cars such as the Proton will form the future of rallying and I can completely understand the concept of getting into one of these cars as soon as possible. It makes complete sense to develop and learn the skills of what I hope will be my trade using the tools of that trade.
“Our car will be run independently, still by Davies Motorsport but from within the MEM service area on events that we are contesting as well as the Proton team. To have that support and to be competing alongside a driver like Alister McRae is an amazing opportunity and one that I will make the very most of.
“I think the objective for the year will be to learn as much as possible; the way the car behaves and how to drive it, the way an official team like MEM works and the relationships between their drivers and the engineers, gain more experience of rallies I haven't done and of course, competing in a championship. Because of my age, I wasn't able to enter any championships last year but I am looking forward to competing against the same drivers over several rallies to see how my performance improves as I learn and understand more.”
Cave will make his final outing in the Fiesta in the opening round of the IRC season in Monte Carlo.