After months of waiting, teenage rally driver Tom Cave finally got his hands on a Proton Satria Neo S2000 rally car for the first time last week, spending a day shaking the car down at Sweet Lamb in Wales.
Having taken delivery of the car from preparation company MEM, Cave and the Davies Motorsport Services technicians, who will be running the car this season, headed for the famous rallying complex to begin familiarising themselves with the Proton. The aim of the first test was for Cave to find a base set-up from which to tailor the car to his driving style, as well as allow the DMS team to begin learning how the car works and what checks to carry out on-event.
By the end of the day, the team had carried out almost 50 miles of running, ending in a series of longer runs on a two-mile loop as Cave found a rhythm in the car and developed his feeling with it.
"We had a constructive day at Sweet Lamb," the youngster commented, "There were a few car points that we worked through and I was able to get almost 50 miles at the wheel, which was a really good start.
"We began with a few set-up changes to get the car working more to my style and then started tweaking the settings to work towards a base set-up for Sardinia, our first rally. [Co-driver] Craig [Parry] was there for the day giving me some pointers and we also spent some time looking at the data from the runs to make improvements as well. I spent the day driving at around 8 or 9/10s and encouragingly, didn't feel out of my depth in the car at all. In fact, the harder you work it, the better it is.
"The stage we used at Sweet Lamb was, I hope, a reasonable start for Sardinia. There was a line emerging from other cars testing there, but it was a bit rough, dry and dusty - I think we had this year's dry day at Sweet Lamb!"
Cave will contest the second part of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge at the wheel of the Proton, beginning his campaign in Sardinia in June, and rounding it out on Rally Scotland, with the possibility of competing on Rally San Remo in September and Rally Cyprus in November in between. The Tom Cave Racing team will contest the same events as the official Proton team and, while the Davies Motorsport Services technicians will run Cave's car, it will be based within the Proton team's service area.