Tom Cave delivered a perfect performance in Saturday’s Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally by setting the fastest time on all of the event’s eight stages and recording his third victory of the season by nearly a minute.
But it was all in vain, as the British Rally Championship defending champion and fellow Welshman Matt Edwards finished third, which was all he needed to do hold onto his title.
With Edwards ahead on points following round five in Ireland, it meant that if he finished seventh or higher, he would still secure the title, even if Cave won the rally.
Cave and co-driver Dale Bowen did all they could to give themselves a chance of snatching the British title in the final round, but in the end, they had to settle for second place.
Based in the forests of southwest Scotland, the rally comprised nine stages and 71 competitive miles over some of the most demanding gravel roads in the UK.
As cars set off from the start near Castle Douglas, Cave knew what he had to do to give himself the best chance of securing the title and he did just that. Stage-after-stage, he and Bowen set the pace, posting a complete set of fastest times, never putting a foot wrong in the process.
The Michelin tyres worked well and the Philip Case Rallysport prepared Hyundai – which had been rebuilt following the previous round – ran faultlessly.
With organisers cancelling the ninth and final stage, Cave and Bowen crossed the finish line to record their third British Rally Championship victory of the season.
They ended the day 54.9 seconds ahead of Jonny Greer/Dai Roberts and two minutes 16 seconds ahead of Edwards/ Walsh, who had also done exactly what they needed to do and finished third.
“To be quickest on all the stages and win without any problems is the best result you can hope for,” said Cave. “We pushed from the start and did everything we could today to keep a grip on the title, but the difference in points between Matt and I was just too much.
“We didn’t lose the title today, it was the DNFs on round one, the Cambrian Rally and round five in Ulster that set us back.
“To have completely rebuilt the Hyundai in three weeks following our off in Ulster – and then for it to run faultlessly throughout this event – is a fantastic achievement and testimony to the PCRS team’s hard work and professionalism. Saturday’s win was for them.
“After three victories – one on asphalt and two on gravel – we’ve proved that the Hyundai i20 R5 is capable of winning in the British Rally Championship. And whilst we didn’t quite get our hands on the title, it’s great to have finished the season on a high.”
“There are so many people I would like to thank for making our 2019 British Rally Championship campaign happen: Trailhead Fine Foods and its Get Jerky snack brand, Cambrian Training, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Michelin Motorsport, Shukers Hyundai of Aberystwyth Ponsse UK, H.N. Nuttall Foodservice, Go Fetch Ltd, Intervino and Atech Racing. We couldn’t have done it without you!”
Cave now looks forward to his next challenge, the Wales Rally GB – Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship – that takes place between October 3-6.
When he’s not rallying, Cave is a manager at the award-winning Trefeddian Hotel, Aberdyfi, which is owned by his family.