PROTON POWERS PRIVATEER TOM CAVE TO A STRONG DRIVE IN RALLY SCOTLAND PERTH, SCOTLAND: Welsh driver Tom Cave was within a few corners of clinching fourth place in the Rally of Scotland before pitching his Proton Satria Neo S2000 car into a ...
PROTON POWERS PRIVATEER TOM CAVE TO A STRONG DRIVE IN RALLY SCOTLAND
PERTH, SCOTLAND: Welsh driver Tom Cave was within a few corners of clinching fourth place in the Rally of Scotland before pitching his Proton Satria Neo S2000 car into a ditch.
Still only 18, Cave fought valiantly in keeping the PROTON flag flying in the rough three-day rally, which inflicted so many casualties that even the top competitors battled repeated punctures.
Starting the third and final day of the rally from ninth, Cave charged aggressively through the last four special stages in dramatic style, which saw Skoda, Ford, Peugeot and PROTON taking the top four fastest positions.
His dream result of a potential fourth overall placing, however, suffered an early setback when two punctures forced the young driver to nurse the Satria Neo S2000 back to service, dropping him back to ninth position and some 10 minutes behind.
Fighting hard to climb back to fourth and en route to his best ever result in the car, the Davies Motorsport driver would eventually succumb to the slippery and rough roads of the famous Scottish Loch Ard Forests. Loch Ard included two timed runs over 29.04km, the longest special stage of the rally,
"Today started really well but I'm devastated that it finished the way it did," said Cave who at the age of 16 two years ago had become the youngest British international rally driver.
"Of course, I'm really annoyed with myself for putting the car into the ditch so close to the end, but at the same time, there are a lot of positives that we can take away from the weekend in that we have demonstrated that we can be competitive in the Satria Neo S2000 with the pace we had set."
Demonstrating the Satria Neo S2000's competitiveness further, PROTON's Alister McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes had driven to a commendable comeback to finish the final day of the rally fourth fastest.
McRae was excluded from an overall placing, but had rejoined the rally under the FIA Super Rally Format following an early retirement on day two due to a failed alternator. Tackling Loch Ard's tight hairpin turns and steep descents, PROTON teammate and two-time and reigning British Rally champion Keith Cronin, also retired from the event. Like Cave, McRae and Cronin too joined a host of other drivers whose run was hampered by punctures throughout the rally.
"While the rally didn't pan out the way we were hoping for, McRae's drive on the last day underlines the significant development we have achieved in trying to close the gap on Skoda, Ford and Peugeot. One prospect we can take away from Scotland in moving forward, is the fact that the Satria Neo S2000 is capable of providing a competitive platform for privateers like Cave to excel against the top seeded drivers," said Team Principal Chris Mellors.
"Since PROTON joined the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) in 2009, our consistent performance underscored by McRae's second place finish in last year's Rally of Scotland, we have received a number of enquiries from privateers keen on purchasing the Satria Neo S2000. This weekend's result in the hands of a privateer goes a long way in reaffirming not only the car's reliability, durability and performance, but also in raising the profile and level of confidence in PROTON as a competitive car."
Skoda Motorsports and newly-crowned Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) champion Juho Hanninen won the rally ahead of Norwegian champion Andreas Mikkelsen in the Ford Fiesta S2000 followed by 2009 IRC champion Kris Meeke in the Peugeot 207 S2000 in third place.
The three-day rally, also the 11th and penultimate round of the IRC had covered a combined distance of 196.92km of competitive special stages.