Teenage rally driver Tom Cave has confirmed that he will contest the second part of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge at the wheel of his Proton Satria Neo Super 2000 rally car.
The 18-year old will begin his campaign in June, at the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, and will certainly round out his season on Rally Scotland, with the possibility of competing on Rally San Remo in September and Rally Cyprus in November as well.
The Tom Cave Racing team will contest the same events as the official Proton team and, while the Davies Motorsport Services technicians will run Tom's car, it will be based within the Proton team's service area. This will allow Tom to not only receive technical and strategic advice and support, but also benefit from the experience of Proton's works driver, former British Rally champion and World Rally Championship works driver Alister McRae. Indeed, Cave's car will be the very example that McRae used to finish in second place on the 2009 Rally of Scotland.
The Welshman's campaign will be split exactly 50/50 between tarmac and gravel, beginning with the gravel of Sardinia before the legendary asphalt of the Ypres Rally in Belgium. He will then head west to the two Portuguese off-shore islands, the Azores and Madeira, for the gravel and tarmac events respectively before returning to mainland Europe for the Barum Rally in the Czech Republic, another asphalt outing.
The penultimate round of the series, Rally of Scotland, runs on gravel stages that were a huge hit with drivers on its inception last year and where Cave finished an impressive eighth overall in the Fiesta.
He also has the option of competing in San Remo and Cyprus, both mixed surface events entailing a complete set-up and specification change on the car partway through the rally. A decision on which, if either, events he will compete on will be taken later in the season.
Cave also hopes to be able to contest at least one rally in Latvia, where he cut his rallying teeth for two years competing in the national championship, widely regarded as one of Europe's most competitive domestic series.
"I'm really looking forward to this season," the youngster admitted, "I tested the car very briefly a few weeks ago and it felt amazing - the engine, brakes and suspension were fantastic and the whole things feels so much more like a proper rally car. Which, of course, it is...
"I was a little apprehensive about that first drive, but the Proton team was there, giving me some pointers and, by the end of the day, it felt very natural. They were also very complimentary about the way I drove the car and my speed, which was extremely encouraging.
"I think this year is going to be a big one - it's a massive step up for us in every way. The car, the events we're doing, being part of a global rally series, working under the Proton umbrella and driving the same car and wearing the same overalls as a driver like Alister.... It's a huge opportunity and, at the same time, a big challenge, but I'm relishing both."
Tom Cave Racing is due to take delivery of his car, which is currently being extensively prepared by MEM in the UK, in mid-April. Following this, an intensive test and evaluation programme will begin, enabling Cave to familiarise himself with the car and begin to develop settings that he will use for the season.