Super-Mann triumphs on Roush Manx National Rally.
KUMHO backed Subaru driver David Mann used the Korean rally tyres to maximum effect as he clinched his first ever National victory in 20 years of trying on the third round of the KUMHO National Rally Championship, the Roush Manx National Rally.
With Alun Cook on the pace notes, Mann was locked in a tense battle with former event winner Kenny McKinstry with three stages to go on the tarmac roads of the Isle of Man. The Subaru men were separated by less than 30 seconds with Mann closing fast on the rapid Ulsterman. Approaching the final run through Brandywell, McKinstry/Noel Orr were forced to retire with major driveshaft problems, allowing Mann to take a 26 second victory after an outstanding drive.
Second in the KUMHO points were Tony Davies and Wyn Thomas in their Metro 6R4. The Milton Keynes driver suffering with a very twitchy rear of the car due to a lack of rear anti-roll bar and old style suspension. Despite that unwanted assistance, Davies battled bravely to bring home the car in one piece after a fine drive.
Another tarmac ace Steve Hendy was also on form. Hendy hit a bank with the front end of his Ford Escort Cosworth on the eighth stage of the event, but little damage had been done to the car mechanically and he was able to continue unabated to secure third in the points and fourth overall.
KUMHO Championship regular and forest expert Steve Petch was next up. The Hyundai Accent WRC driver was enjoying the tarmac stages as always but was struggling to get a good set up on the car. Changing the compound of his tyres seemed to work better on the Saturday, and he stepped up the pace to take an excellent 4th in the points.
Other leading championship contenders did not fare so well on the demanding stages. Reigning KUMHO National Rally Champion Mark Perrott exited the rally on Friday evening with engine failure. Subaru Impreza WRC driver Marcus Dodd retired with gearbox failure early on Saturday morning after a solid drive. Steve Fleck was forced to retire with mechanical problems, and both Ollie O' Donovan and Paul Bird retired with differential failures.
In contrast, the ever reliable Martyn Harrison and Stewart Merry were also in great form in their Metro 6R4. Harrison had not driven the new car on tarmac before but they were consistent throughout, finishing inside the top ten after a spirited second day performance.
Andy Burton had a weekend to forget in his mighty Peugeot-Cosworth. With John Roberts alongside, the Peugeot was making a rare appearance on tarmac and the Herefordshire man struggled valiantly to keep the car on the road during the Friday loop of stages. A broken exhaust manifold was another problem for the duo as they struggled to the finish -- but importantly kept their championship lead.
Bob Fowden took the honours in the KUMHO Production Cup, taking the Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge honours in the process and an excellent 11th overall. The Welshman 15 seconds ahead of Ulsterman Brendan Crealey. The Portadown driver is no fan of tarmac making his effort all the more impressive as he took 12th and extended his lead in the championship.
Elsewhere in Group N, Gavin Cox and Paul Alexander were both expecting to do well on the event. Team Purpleloans backed Alexander suffered a puncture and then driveshaft failure forcing him to retire. Cox also retiring for the exact same reason. Steve Perez and Neil Gatt had both been enjoying the event until they suffered accidents in their Mitsubishi's.
The KUMHO Junior Championship battle saw Craig Middleton come out on top again in his Matador backed Hyundai Coupe F2 car. Middleton once more taking the KUMHO Formula 2 award as well. Middleton's 17 year old co-driver Shelley Rogerson was also rewarded for her contribution -- taking the KUMHO Ladies Co-driver award.
Finally, the KUMHO Person of the Meeting award goes to Cliff Rook in his Mitsubishi. With brother Richard alongside, the pair had travelled all the way from Jersey to contest their first ever KUMHO National Championship round and managed to grab 73rd in the end after a considerable round trip!