This weekend’s Plains Rally witnessed a masterful performance by Tom Cave. Having led from the start, the Aberdovey driver, together with his co-driver James Morgan from Hirwaun, they won six of the event’s seven stages to take victory by a convincing margin of 27-seconds.
With an eight-week gap between the third and fourth rounds of the MSA British Rally Championship - the Pirelli Carlisle Rally and the RSAC Scottish Rally - Tom, James and the Spencer Sport team, who prepare the Fiesta R5 that’s taken them to three top-four BRC results this season, took the decision last week to enter the fourth round of the BTRDA Rally Series. And they were very pleased they did!
This seven-stage event that comprised 45-competitive miles would be used to develop set ups for the car and to test the Michelin tyres in competitive conditions, without the pressure of having to score championship points. Plus, with it Tom’s ‘home’ rally and his subsequent familiarity of the stages, entering this event was a logical choice.
Bright and sunny weather was the order of the day as the 143 crews arrived in Welshpool for the start of the 50th running of the Plains Rally on Saturday (14th May). The conditions meant that the stages in the North Wales Forests were dry and dusty, but with Tom and James seeded at number three, poor visibility caused by the dust was unlikely to be an issue.
In fact, there were no issues whatsoever for the first run through Gartheiniog Forest, with Tom and James taking nine-seconds off their closest rivals, Julian Reynolds and Patrick Walsh in a Ford Focus WRC. And, whilst the tables were turned by two-seconds on stage two - Dyfi East - Tom and James were fastest again by four-seconds through SS3, Dyfi West. Consequently, when the crews arrived at the lunchtime service halt, Tom and James had extended their advantage to 11-seconds.
The next three stages were a re-run of the first and Tom commented that conditions were ideal: the Fiesta was running perfectly, they had been re-seeded to run as the first car on the road and the sun was still shining! The afternoon’s trio of stages - plus the addition of Pantperthog at the end - could not have gone better. In fact, following the rally Tom admitted that he and James were smiling all the way through the final stage.
A faultless performance from the crew, the Spencer Sport Fiesta and the Michelin tyres resulted in Tom and James crossing the finish line in Welshpool having pulled out a 27-second advantage. It was an impressive result and signified the first-ever outright victory for the Spencer Sport team.
“I haven’t enjoyed a rally as much as this for a long time”, said Tom at the finish. “We entered the event to work on set ups and to test the Michelin tyres in competitive conditions - as well as make sure we kept ourselves match fit during the gap between BRC events. In fact, everything went so well, we quickly found ourselves in front and I’m delighted to have provided Spencer Sport with its first overall victory and to have won my home event.
“It’s clear from this result that all of us in the team are doing the right things and if we can continue the momentum into the next round of the BRC, then we’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve this weekend. I therefore have to thank Spencer Sport for providing me with such a fantastic car. It never missed a beat throughout the rally and also thank James for his work and support inside the car.”
The next event for Tom, James and the Spencer Sport team is the RSAC Scottish Rally that starts and finishes in Dumfries on 25th June.