Irish Bulldog Rally preview

"Bulldog Spirit to determine KUMHO title outcome". KUMHO backed driver David Mann and his co-driver Alun Cook need a top nine finish in order to secure the 2003 KUMHO National Rally Championship on next weekend's Bulldog National Rally (October...

"Bulldog Spirit to determine KUMHO title outcome".

KUMHO backed driver David Mann and his co-driver Alun Cook need a top nine finish in order to secure the 2003 KUMHO National Rally Championship on next weekend's Bulldog National Rally (October 18th). The consistent Subaru Impreza 555 duo suffered an agonising first stage retirement on the recent Park Systems Rally, and the pressure is on Mann to claim the title in Mid Wales. Cook has already lifted the Co-drivers crown.

The form man of the KUMHO series going into the final round is without a doubt Roger Duckworth. The Integral Powertrain director has taken maximum points on the last three rounds of the hotly contested championship, and will be going all out for victory number four on the Shrewsbury based rally. With co-driver Mark Broomfield on the notes, Roger needs another outright win to make his title dream a reality in the forests of Mid Wales. Retirement for Mann or a very bad finish could see Duckworth sneak in the back door for the title race in his Autosportif Subaru Impreza WRC.

Arguably the favourite for the event win will be Hereford's Andy Burton in his mighty Peugeot-Cosworth. A spate of mid season retirements ended Burton's chances of the championship win, but the Peugeot usually performs strongly in Mid Wales and Burton will surely feature on the podium if the car is reliable on the day.

Another driver to watch on the event is Leominster's Mark Perrott. The 2002 KUMHO champion has endured a dreadful season of misfortune in his Ford Escort WRC, with an engine failure on the Roush Manx Rally ending his championship involvement. Mark will be hoping for an upturn in luck as he makes a welcome return to the championship for the final round.

Despite turmoil at World Championship level, it could well be a Hyundai at the top of the leaderboard by the Saturday evening on the rally. Steve Petch and John Richardson will be looking to end their season on a high after retiring on the first stage in Scotland. Similarly, British Superbike team boss Paul Bird will be looking for a good result in his similar Accent WRC. Bird and journalist co-driver Larry Carter led the recent Plains Rally in Mid Wales before mechanical problems forced them out. The Penrith driver will arrive in Shrewsbury confident of a good finish in the immaculate red machine.

KUMHO series stalwarts Bob Ceen and Martyn Harrison will also round off their championship campaigns in Shrewsbury. Harrison was as high as 2nd in the standings at the mid point of the year after a series of ultra consistent performances in his Metro 6R4. Subaru driver Ceen has also been right on the pace at times this year in his CP Engineering backed car. The experienced Malvern driver is very much a dark horse for a podium finish on the Bulldog with Alistair Douglas on the notes.

The battle for Production Cup honours will also be wide open on the rally. Nigel Griffiths, Paul Wedgebury, Steve Palmer, Tony Thompson and Ian Barrett could all feature strongly on the day. Their task made considerably easier by the absence of 2003 Production Cup and Evo Challenge winner Brendan Crealey who has elected to miss the end of season finale.

Further down the entry list, the remaining battles for class honours will be resolved by Saturday evening. Class A5 looks to be the pick of the battles. Steven Petch and Michael Wilkinson will be keen to add to their recent run of good form, whilst young Ed Stallard needs to finish the rally to be assured of taking the crown. Should Stallard slip up, Devon driver Kevin Wills can take the title with a good finish in his Nissan Micra Kit Car.

The battle for Ladies honours is more straightforward. Mandy Roberts has already taken the Silverstone Rally School backed drivers award in her Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V, whilst Yorkshire's Anne Watson has beaten off the challenge of Holly Robinson to claim the co-drivers title.

The popular rally has received one of the best entries of the season, with a high number of rapid non registered drivers dipping a toe in the water ahead of possible campaigns within the KUMHO series next year. Last year's event winners Julian Reynolds and Ieuan Thomas will lead the crews away from the start in a Prodrive run Subaru Impreza WRX, looking to repeat their impressive first ever National rally victory in the forests of Dyfi, Dyfnant and the Sweet Lamb Complex.

Further information on the event, including entry list and spectator details can be found via the event website at www.thebulldogrally.freeserve.co.uk or by visiting the official KUMHO National Championship website at www.kumhorally.info.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Paul Bird