If we were to mention a fast Welsh rally driver competing on a world stage you would perhaps be mistaken for thinking we were talking about Elfyn Evans, who we interviewed last year about his rise to the top level of the sport.
Today however, we are talking to Tom Cave, the 23-year-old from Aberdyfi in West Wales who with co-driver Craig Parry last year only just missed out on the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy to Sander Pärn and James Morgan.
Cave has been competing properly in rallying for six years but it was earlier that he started practising his skills.
“I started with rally driving when I was 12 years old practising driving as many cars I could get my hands on,” he told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk.
Talking about his early memories in motor sport it is clear that his father was a huge influence as he recalls watching the Network Q Rally when he was very young with his dad and friends in South Wales.
“My dad had massive passion for rallying – he competed at national level. I was given the chance to drive a Mk2 Escort around an airfield and discovered I had a natural talent to drive rally cars.”
The Welsh driver got his first chance to take part in a rally in 2007, “Rally Sarma 2007 – part of the Latvian rallysprint championship, on snow and ice in a Honda Civic Type R. I was 15 years old and I finished third over all” he adds.
Throughout his so far short career, Cave has already competed in a number of rallies on the British, European and World stages but for 2014 he made the step up to the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, a five round series that takes part as part of the World Rally Championship package.
“It was like nothing else I have competed on before,” admits Cave. “Tough events, big mileage long days, we adapted well and have learnt loads! I want to continue in the WRC for 2015 and continue the learning process.”
Asked of the biggest challenge that has faced him in stepping up from the BRC to the WRC he said it was the level of competition.
“You are fighting with the world’s best drivers and you have to raise your game, otherwise you will be left standing.”
Cave has impressed many people throughout the year but his biggest challenge was heading to the fast-paced Finish rally for the first time.
“I was told by many Finns e.g. Risto Laine, Timo Lampinen, and Ari Vatanen if you are fast in Finland for the first time you will be respected amongst the Finns. And we won 8 stages and held a 30 second lead before a mechanical failure.
“The biggest challenge was accepting that our championship was massively halted and we lost a potential win!”
While it brought his biggest challenge it also saw his best moment of the year.
“Being fastest on both runs of the new Ouninpohja stage on Rally Finland – that was a very proud moment for me and my dad would have been very pleased with that, after watching it on TV for years and seeing the world’s best drivers drive it. Of course winning in Germany by over 3 minutes was also pretty special.”
With the DDFT over, Cave was presented with the opportunity to take part in the Wales Rally GB in a WRC2 car, we asked him what it was like making the switch to the more powerful R5 machine from his usual Ford Fiesta R2.
“I must be honest – I struggled to start with. But I soon adopted well and got up to speed. Everything happens four times as fast in an R5 car than in an R2 car”
Cave has yet to announce his 2015 plans but did say that he would hopefully be back to take on the 2015 running of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy and challenge for the title, whatever happens next Cave is definitely one rally driver that should be watched.