The KUMHO National Rally Championship 2003 - Mutiny Rally ship shape and ready! After a weekend of high speed excitement in the Isle of Man, attention now turns back to the brilliant forests of Mid Wales for the Mutiny Rally, round four of the...
The KUMHO National Rally Championship 2003 - Mutiny Rally ship shape and ready!
After a weekend of high speed excitement in the Isle of Man, attention now turns back to the brilliant forests of Mid Wales for the Mutiny Rally, round four of the KUMHO National Rally Championship.
Leading the pack after a tremendous win on tarmac are David Mann/Alun Cook. The Flixton Mushroom farmer produced a brilliant second day performance to close on leader Kenny McKinstry. When Kenny and co-driver Noel Orr broke a driveshaft and power steering pipes on the penultimate stage, Mann pounced in his KUMHO backed Subaru Impreza 555.
Sadly, McKinstry was forced to retire, and Mann took an excellent 26 second victory. The win also elevated Mann to the top of the KUMHO Championship points table, just three points clear of Andy Burton and John Roberts. Not only was it Mann's first win on a National round in 20 years of trying, it was also series sponsor KUMHO's first ever overall victory in the series with their range of competition tyres on an event that they dominated the time sheets on.
Burton struggled all weekend with an ill-handling Peugeot-Cosworth. Power steering, gearbox and manifold problems, not to mention two 100 mph + spins on the stages did little to help his confidence in the car. Burton will no doubt be looking for a serious return to form on the Mutiny, after a lowly 23rd on the Manx.
If you think that Burton will be flying on the Mutiny, then keep an eye out for the Flitewise backed Subaru Impreza WRC of former KUMHO National Champion Marcus Dodd. As a past winner of the rally, Dodd will be fiercely determined to claim the top spot again after one win and two retirements this year. It could be a battle to saviour as the "gravel gods" go head to head on stages they both enjoy.
Another crew desperate for a change in fortune will be reigning KUMHO National Champions Mark Perrott/Garry Mansell. Their Active Motorsport Ford Escort WRC is yet to score a point in this years championship. Mark knows the mid Wales stages well and will no doubt be a serious contender this weekend. Can Mark open his points tally with a win in 2003?
Consistent if not spectacular finishes have seen Yorkshireman Martyn Harrison move quietly into third in the points table. The Metro 6R4 driver is no slouch on tarmac, but definitely prefers the challenge of loose surfaces. Martyn has been partnered by experienced Scottish co-driver Stewart Merry for the early part of the season, but will be with a new co-driver from this weekend onwards.
The Production Cup for Group N cars has also been a close run thing so far. Portadown driver Brendan Crealey lies an excellent 5th in the overall points standings, after three very strong podium performances this year with Steve Harris on the notes. Crealey has battled with Team Purpleloans man Paul Alexander on all three rallies this season, but the Herts. driver was unlucky to retire on the Manx with transmission problems after a strong showing.
The KUMHO National Championship also has two fantastic ex-works Hyundai Accent WRC's taking part this season. Leading the SGP Motorsport team is Steve Petch and co-driver John Richardson. Although Steve could be described as a veteran of the series, his performances on gravel are always strong. Expect "Petchy" to be there or thereabouts by the end of the rally.
A flutter on Malvern driver Bob Ceen wouldn't be a bad thing. Ceen was the revelation on the Astra Stages Rally, finishing 2nd overall with Alistair Douglas. Ceen is no stranger to the forests of Mid Wales in his Subaru, and could well spring a surprise again this time. Place your bets..