Mann is rallying to the cause

FORMER National Rally Champion David Mann blew away more than a few cobwebs to claim a hard-earned eighth place in the Jim Clark Rally (May 27 and 28) — his final major shakedown before undertaking next month’s Ypres round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

The flying Flixton mushroom farmer has been able to contest only one major rally this year prior to the two-day Scottish Borders-based fourth round of the Dulux Trade British Championship.

It was also Mann and Caerphilly co-driver Alun Cook’s first experience of Britain’s premier rallying series in over a decade the vastly experienced East Anglian was left to admit that the event proved a ‘crash refresher course’ in the sport at international level.

The duo set off swiftly in their Kumho Tyres Subaru Impreza, clocking the sixth fastest time over Friday night’s opening stage in Duns town centre, but as the evening wore on they slipped back to 13th. Mann confessed:

“I was a bit disappointed on Friday night that we weren’t a bit closer to the pace but were back in with some of the best in British rallying again and it’s hard to keep up if you are not doing it week in, week out now.”

The unpredictable showery weather made conditions difficult to foresee during Saturday’s second and final leg but Mann and Cook displayed a noticeable increase in pace, climbing steadily to finishing a much improved eighth and within 36 seconds of sixth place. Mann continued:

“It hits home that you have to be doing it regularly to really compete these days but I was getting nearer to where I wanted to be near the end.

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“The weather has been a bit mixed, although that’s the same for everyone, but there was an occasion where we put intermediate tyres on and we ended up doing a stage in the dry with them on, then we put slicks back on and it started to rain.

“The roads in the Scottish borders are very smooth and when they get wet they can be very slippery!”

Nevertheless Mann spoke highly of the Impreza’s Kumho tyres which kept them safely on the road throughout the 16 high-speed stages, a notable achievement in itself as no fewer than a third of the total entry failed to make the finishing podium.

Mann’s gleaming white Subaru was even more conspicuous as the rest of the field was almost entirely shod with Pirelli rubber — compulsory for British Championship runners.

Mann and Cook completed the 140 competitive miles of rallying with half a dozen top ten stage times and, despite one scary moment when, on slicks in the rain, they overshot a 90 degree right hander and slid into a field, the car escaped unscathed.

Just as well as its next engagement is pride of place in the launch of the new Subaru WRX STI 320R and Legacy ES Nav at Dingles Subaru in Norwich on Saturday, June 4. see:

Two weeks later (June 18) both Mann and the Nortech Motorsport prepared car are among the special attractions at the Sporting Car Club of Norfolk’s motorsports promotional day at the Forum in the centre of Norwich. See:

The Impreza will then be shipped across the North Sea for the GEKO Ypres Rally on June 24 and 25.

The Jim Clark Rally, held in memory of the twice former World Motor Racing Champion who hailed from the area, was won by British Championship leader David Bogie and Kevin Rae.

Jim Clark Rally Final Top Ten: 1 David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi EVO 9) 2:05:41.9, 2 Jonathan Greer/Dai Roberts (Skoda Fabia) 2:05:59.5, 3 Adam Gould/Seb Marshall (Subaru Impreza) 2:06:46.3, 4 Elfyn Evans/Andrew Edwards (Subaru Impreza) 2:07:38.2, 5 Martin McCormack/David Moynihan (Citroen DS3 R3) 2:10:56.8, 6 Alastair Fisher/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta R2) 2:14:05.0, 7 Peter Taylor/Andrew Roughead (Renault Clio R3) 2:14:31.2, 8 David Mann/Alun Cook (Subaru Impreza) 2:14:41.9, 9 Mikko Pajunen/Jani Salo (Renault Twingo R2) 2:15:14.2, 10 Desi Henry/John Rowan (Citroen C2 Max) 2:15:49.4.