It was not the outcome the JRM Rally Team and driver Tom Cave had been hoping for on this weekend’s Bulldog Rally of North Wales, the second round of the 2011 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, when an off-road excursion at the end of the first stage forced the 19-year old from Aberdovey and his co-driver Craig Parry from Llanymynech into early retirement.

The one-day rally started and finished in Welshpool and featured ten stages, the combination of which provided teams with a total competitive distance of 82 miles. Cave was driving the same Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X he had used on two previous rallies this year and, with both outings delivering good results, he was looking forward to being back out in the JRM car.

Boosted by an impressive second overall on the opening round of the British Championship in February, the team were targeting another podium finish this weekend, especially with this being the crew’s most local BRC event of the season. However, with the forests of North Wales a challenging environment for even the most seasoned of drivers, a good result was never going to be easy.

With this in mind, Cave was determined to push from the start and, even after the heavy overnight rain had left the stages more slippery than experienced during the previous day’s recce, onlookers reported that Cave was setting a blistering page over the opening 4.5 mile run through Llangywer Forest. There was no doubt that the car and crew were working well until, with only a few hundred yards of the stage left to go, the back of the car stepped out.

Of course, in rallying, this is never a cause for concern. However, on this occasion, for some reason the car suddenly turned in the opposite direction, sending Cave, Parry and their Evolution X off the road, down a bank and into a tree. Although there was only minor damage to the Mitsubishi’s screen pillar, they were stuck and therefore, could not get back on to the road and continue.

Although disappointed, the crew and team were philosophical about the incident, as regulations allow two scores to be dropped from the season’s seven rounds. Their attentions now turn to round three and the Carlisle-based Pirelli Rally, which takes place on 29th & 30th April and utilises the demanding gravel roads in the infamous Kielder Forest.

Team Quotes

Tom Cave

"I am absolutely gutted our rally ended like this – and so soon. And the worst part is, I'm still not entirely sure what happened. The conditions were very tricky and possibly I left my braking too late. All I know is that when I turned into the left-hander the rear of the car started to slide - just as I wanted it to. It then felt like it found some grip and suddenly the rear snapped the other way, which pitched us off the road and down a bank. There was no way we could get back on the road and that was it. That’s one of our two lives lost, so we’ll now have to make sure that we take a good haul of points from the rest of this season’s events.”

John Barnes - Team Manager

It’s not the result that any of us wanted, or indeed expected, but it’s the nature of the sport and I’m afraid we have to accept that these sorts of things happen sometimes. We will have a good look at the car to see if there’s anything that may have contributed to the off, but having driven it from the stage and back to the service area, there doesn’t seem to be any mechanical issues. We will now focus on making sure that we give Tom the best chance he can of a great result in round three.”

Photo: Jakob Ebrey


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