Yokohama-shod Cave Dominates Class in Wales
The only runner on Yokohama tyres at last weekend’s Wales Rally GB, Tom Cave led from the first stage to beat the rest of his class by almost 15 minutes, finishing 30th overall. Cave was the youngest driver ever to enter the UK round of the FIA World Rally Championship, but in the face of regular runners in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy International, the one-make series for Group N Ford Fiestas, he put in a demonstrative performance on his WRC debut.
Commenting on the weekend’s result, Yokohama HPT Motorsport Manager Mark Evans said; “We are naturally delighted to have helped Tom to achieve an outstanding result on his WRC debut and offer our congratulations to him, Gemma and the rest of the Tom Cave Racing team.
“The conditions this weekend were extremely difficult and the changing nature of the roads within single stages meant that it was almost impossible to have exactly the right tyre for the full stage distance. But Tom worked closely with Simon and Martin Rowe [former Production car World Rally Champion] to establish a set-up on the car that would give consistent, safe levels of grip. To then go out and dominate the class as Tom did is an amazing achievement and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of this young man in the future.”
Conditions were particularly treacherous; even the pre-event recce caused problems, thanks to snowfall and compacted snow and ice on the stages as the crews made their pace notes for the event. Reigning champion Sebastien Loeb actually went off the road twice before the event even began.
Organisers drastically shortened the stages for the first day to avoid the worst of the snow and ice. Even so, there were numerous casualties of the conditions, with offs and spins throughout the field. Cave and co-driver Gemma Price knew just how easy it would be to fall foul of the weather and deliberately set a pace that would ensure they avoided the worst of the potential problems and achieve their objective of finishing the event.
Their strategy paid off and by the end of the first day, they had already notched-up a class of lead of around six minutes. They continued with their plan for both the second and third days, with an advantage of 12 minutes and almost 15 minutes respectively.
By the time they reached the finish ramp in Cardiff on Sunday afternoon, they had climbed to 30th overall from their start position of 94th, were the second two wheel-drive car overall and won the N3, for Group N cars up to 2000cc, by almost a quarter of an hour.
Tom put much of their success down to adopting a pragmatic approach to the event and the grip and stability of the Yokohama tyres, as well as the on-event support from Rally Technician, Simon Clark. “I was very impressed with the Yokohama tyres, as well as the support from Simon over the weekend. The tyres worked extremely well; We picked up just two punctures throughout the event, which is incredible when you consider just how bad the conditions were and these were entirely down to the roughness of the stage surface.
“We used two options over the weekend; the narrow tyre worked very well on Friday, when we were faced with mud, ice and then on the second run through, churned-up mud. We used the wider tyre on Saturday and Sunday, when there was less ice and this helped with stability and turn-in on the faster stages, especially when the roads were very badly rutted. There was more grip available on Saturday and Sunday and the Yokohamas made full use of that.