16 year-old rally driver Tom Delaney took the best result of his – short so far – rally career this weekend on the Peter Lloyd Stages Rally at the Pembrey racetrack in Wales. Delaney, partnered by co-driver Joe Cruttenden, took second in the Formula 1000 Junior category of the event and with it, his first-ever stage win to propel himself up the overall standings.
Having been out of his SVP-prepared and run Suzuki Alto 1000cc rally car for more than two months, Delaney was on the pace from the outset. He was delayed by around nine seconds on the first stage, thanks to another car spinning ahead of him but he went on to beat the eventual winner on three of the remaining fours stages of the rally.
He also set his first-ever fastest stage time in the F1000 Junior category on the third timed test of the day, to cement a solid second place going into the last stage of the rally, just five seconds behind Charlie Barlow, who would go on to become the 2015 champion after the rally.
As it transpired, Tom ended-up dropping three seconds to Barlow on the final stage, ending the rally in second place, just seven seconds behind the now-champion. However, his performance meant that the gap behind him to third place was more than one and a half minutes. The margin to Barlow was also the closest any driver has been to the champion all season, as he competes in his last F1000 Junior season.
Commenting, Tom said; “I‘m really pleased with this weekend’s result. We had a really good battle with Charlie throughout the rally and of course, I was giving it everything to win the rally. But to finish second with such a close gap was a really good result. The car ran perfectly and we had a superb rally – I’m encouraged to have pushed Charlie so hard!”
Speaking at the finish, Tom’s father Dominic and owner of preparation company SVP, said; “I’m really pleased with Tom – and Joe’s – performance this weekend. They have clearly shown they have both outright speed and the ability to stay out of trouble – two of the three key ingredients for success in rallying.
“The car also seems reliable and strong, which means that they can concentrate on putting in the best performance possible.
“I think to run Charlie so close throughout the rally – not just the final result but beating him on two stages and getting his first stage win – was a superb accomplishment. Charlie has been the clear pace-setter this year and for Tom to be the driver that pushes him the hardest in only his second season of motorsport is something I am very proud of.
“There are now two more rounds to go and I am keen to see how the final championship positions end up. Tom missed two rallies earlier this year because of his exams but the rules allow two scores to be dropped, so hopefully he is still in with a shout for runner-up, which would be a superb result.”
The next round takes place at the Anglesey circuit in north Wales over the Halloween weekend.