19 November 2013
Wales Rally GB: Top five WRC2 result for Cave
Tom Cave: I must admit I was surprised with our pace on Friday - I didn't expect to win five out of six stages...
Welsh rally driver Tom Cave enjoyed a strong finish to the 2013 Wales Rally GB, having set a string of impressive stage times throughout the event.
Despite a series of penalties for leaving service late following extensive and over-running mechanical work during the event, the young driver, who celebrated his 22nd birthday during the rally, came home twelfth overall and fifth in the WRC2 class.
Cave and co-driver Ieuan Thomas made a cautious start to the event on Thursday night. However, a hard landing in the last stage caused an oil leak from the gearbox and the MSL Motorsport team were unable to change the gearbox in the allotted 45 minute service halt. It eventually took 26 minutes longer, leading to the first of the penalties.
Cave then set about proving what he knew he was capable of and impressively claimed the stage win in the WRC2 category on five of Friday's six stages. However, in that evening's service, a rear differential change also over-ran and led to further penalties.
By Saturday morning, Cave had 5m10s of lateness penalties, but he continued to battle, consistently setting top three WRC2 stage times and enjoying a superb fight with Elfyn Evans, Jari Ketomaa and Mark Higgins. Cave eventually reached the end of the penultimate day in twelfth place overall, having dropped to 45th on Thursday.
The fourth and final day saw six more stages and Cave once again began setting top three stage times in his Morris Lubricants-supported Ford Fiesta R5. However, his car developed a misfire during the final day, similar to that experienced by team-mate Higgins on the third day and this led to a lack of power and lost time. However, the problem was not severe enough to further affect the result and Cave reached the finish ramp of the event in P12 overall and fifth in WRC2.
However, without the time penalties for lateness out of service, it would have been a different story, with Cave 'potentially' standing on the WRC2 podium, behind Evans and Ketomaa.
“It's been a superb weekend,” said Cave. “Of course, it was very disappointing to pick up the penalties early on and through no fault of our own but that's how it goes sometimes. But with the chances of a result gone, it meant there was no pressure on us and we could enjoy the driving, enjoy the car and see what we could do.
“I must admit I was surprised with our pace on Friday - I didn't expect to win five out of six stages. I knew I had my mojo back and the feeling in the car was great - it was working well, the DMACK tyres felt great and everything clicked.
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