Teenage rally driver Tom Cave will contest selected rounds of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge in a Proton Satria Neo S2000. The 18-year-old will enter eight events in the Proton this season – as well as next week's Monte Carlo Rally, which will be his final rally in a Ford Fiesta ST.
Cave's father and Tom Cave Racing team manager Peter Cave have been working on the deal to secure the ex-works Satria for months and the agreement was completed yesterday.
"I still can't quite believe that I'll be driving an S2000 Proton this year," said Cave. "I know it's something that the team had been trying to secure for some time but I didn't think for a moment that it would happen for this year.
"For the last few months, I have been working on the basis that I would be driving a two-wheel-drive car this year, possibly an R2 or R3 car but this is an incredible opportunity. Of course, while I'm incredibly excited, I'm also a little apprehensive. I'm not naive enough to think for a moment that I will be anywhere near the pace of people who have been rallying for almost as long as I have been alive! But cars such as the Proton will form the future of rallying and I can completely understand the concept of getting into one of these cars as soon as possible. It makes complete sense to develop and learn the skills of what I hope will be my trade using the tools of that trade."
The precise details of Cave's first IRC program have yet to be finalized, but the Welshman is expected to compete on the penultimate round of this year, October's Rally of Scotland.
He added: "Our car will be run independently, still by Davies Motorsport but from within the MEM service area on events that we are contesting as well as the Proton team. To have that support and to be competing alongside a driver like Alister McRae is an amazing opportunity and one that I will make the very most of.
"I think the objective for the year will be to learn as much as possible; the way the car behaves and how to drive it, the way an official team like MEM works and the relationships between their drivers and the engineers, gain more experience of rallies I haven't done and, of course, competing in a championship.
"Because of my age, I wasn't able to enter any championships last year but I am looking forward to competing against the same drivers over several rallies to see how my performance improves as I learn and understand more."
In 2009, Cave contested 10 events across Europe, including World, IRC, British and Latvian national championship rounds. He won his class on three of the final four rallies he contested, including Rally Latvia and Rally of Scotland – where he placed his Fiesta eighth overall. Cave hit the rallying headlines in 2008 when he won his class on Rally GB, just 18 days after his 17th birthday.