Mann determined to bounce back in champion style Defending champion David Mann returns to the scene of some of his best rallying moments as he bids to turn the tide of fortune in this season's Kumho Tyres National Championship. Bungay ...
Mann determined to bounce back in champion style
Defending champion David Mann returns to the scene of some of his best rallying moments as he bids to turn the tide of fortune in this season's Kumho Tyres National Championship.
Bungay Mushroom farmer Mann and co-driver Alun Cook drive a Subaru Impreza WRC in the Swansea Bay National Rally on Saturday, July 17 and travel with renewed confidence after a successful test outing in the car recently.
The high speed duo were runners-up in South Wales 12 months ago - a result which put them on course for their maiden national title - but 2004 has proved a nightmare with a succession of mechanical disasters wrecking their defence switching from their older Subaru during the winter.
"I seem to have come second quite a few times on this event," recalls Mann. "In fact we've finished everywhere except first I think but, while it would be nice to win, the most important thing this time is to finish and get a good result as we have got out of the habit of doing that."
Mann and Cook's hopes have been buoyed by the performance of their Ace Motorsport-prepared Impreza on the recent Mid Wales Stages, where they ran ahead of the competitive field as 'Course Car'.
"Alun arranged with the organisers for us to do it and it definitely proved beneficial as I managed to get a lot more miles behind the wheel of the car which is something we haven't been able to do so often this year.
"The stages in South Wales are generally narrower and perhaps faster in places as well and last year's Swansea Bay Rally took place in temperatures of around 90 degrees so dust was a major problem.
"The Mid Wales Stages was actually quite wet with two or three of the stages very muddy and the forecast is for it to keep raining so I don't think it's going to be too dusty this year."
A cracked manifold brought them to a premature halt on last month's fourth round of the championship but with that fixed and renewed confidence in the Kumho-sponsored Subaru, the thus far beleaguered duo are relishing the chance to get back among the front-runners.
"The championship has become so competitive these days and there is some serious kit out there," continues Mann, a father of three who has been contesting top class rallies for over two decades now.
"It's difficult to keep up with it sometimes but it's important that we make a good impression over the second half of the season in order to get the backing for whatever we plan to do next year."
The Swansea Bay National Rally - one of the longest standing events on the championship calendar - takes the crews through several stages in the Vale of Neath made famous by recent Rally GBs, including Rheola, which incorporates the Walters Arena spectator complex.
Mann and Cook's Kumho Impreza WRC is seeded at number six, behind three other former national champions: current series leader Roger Duckworth, Marcus Dodd and Mark Perrott.