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Mann bid scuppered by rock

PUBLISHED: 12:33 04 September 2009 | UPDATED: 08:28 01 August 2010

DAVID Mann's bid to secure runners-up spot in the Richard Egger MSA National Asphalt Championship must go to the final round in October after his eagerly-awaited debut in a new car on Sunday's Eventsigns Mewla Rally ended in bitter disappointment and frustration.

DAVID Mann's bid to secure runners-up spot in the Richard Egger MSA National Asphalt Championship must go to the final round in October after his eagerly-awaited debut in a new car on Sunday's Eventsigns Mewla Rally ended in bitter disappointment and frustration.

Mann, from Flixton, headed for mid-Wales with high hopes but barely got his recently- purchased ex-World Championship-winning Subaru Impreza S9 into top gear before disaster struck and his rally was run.

A slight misjudgement and a large boulder on the opening test of the nine stage rally caused irreparable damage to the Kumho Tyres-sponsored car's rear suspension.

The 2003 National Gravel Rally Champion and co-driver Alun Cook, from Caerphilly, were not only denied valuable championship points but also any meaningful mileage in the unfamiliar Subaru.

“Less than a mile into the first stage - at the first real junction - we hit a big rock and destroyed the suspension and that was that,” explained a devastated Mann afterwards.

“The organisers often artificially tighten the corners by using bales to slow down the cars down.

“On this occasion there was a two-foot by two-foot rock placed on the inside to prevent drivers cutting the corner.

“It was covered by a black and yellow bag which, at speed and on a rainy, misty day, looked like a bale.

“I misjudged it slightly - it was my mistake - and clipped it with the back wheel.

“We weren't going very fast and I don't think the rock even moved but it spun the car round and left the back wheel pointing out at

two-o'clock! I was so annoyed with myself and disappointed for both the local Keith Price Garage group (from Abergavenny), who had offered us additional sponsorship on this event, and our engine tuner Terry Stamper, who had kindly driven over from Leicestershire, very early for the start, and intended to stay with us through the day in order to check all the settings on the new engine.”

To compound Mann's frustration, 2008 Asphalt Champion David Kynaston, a former Mewla winner, hauled himself back into contention for the runner-up spot this season by bagging a huge haul of points at the Mewla Rally.

Cook, meanwhile, still has a mathematical chance of taking the overall co-driver's crown as Sean Mullally, navigator for champion driver elect Melvyn Evans, also suffered an early retirement.

The final round is the Cheviot Rally in Northumbria on October 19.

David Mann and Alun Cook wish to thank Kumho Tyres, Nortech Motorsport, MinteX, Compomotive Wheels, Flixton Mushrooms and Keith Price garages for their highly- valued support in 2009.

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