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Mann rallies to cause

PUBLISHED: 11:04 18 July 2008 | UPDATED: 07:31 01 August 2010

LEADING East Anglian driver David Mann battled back into the top five in the Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Champ-ionship after bringing a season's best 22 points back from western Ireland on Sunday.

LEADING East Anglian driver David Mann battled back into the top five in the Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Champ-ionship after bringing a season's best 22 points back from western Ireland on Sunday.

But it wasn't easy for the Flixton, Bungay farmer and Milton-Keynes based co-driver Alun Cook, who overcame a dreadful start to steer their Kumho Tyres Subaru Impreza to a commendable eighth place overall on the Sligo Stages Rally - having at one stage been as low as 36th on the leader board.

Mann was plagued by a troublesome turbo pipe, which sprung off on the opening stage and again made a break for freedom on the final test of the 160km rally.

In between, the 2003 National Rally Champion climbed steadily with a succession of fast times and actually made it to sixth place entering the ninth and last stage of the event.

By that time their engine, loaned at the 11th hour for the event, was also expelling oil at an alarming rate and, but for the time losses, Mann and Cook could have finished above multiple former national tarmac champions John and Caroline Price. In their trademark Metro 6R4, they took the maximum 25 championship points from the Sligo Stages to strengthen their challenge in the six-round series.

“We probably lost two minutes in total through the turbo problems,” reflected Mann.

“We lost boost nearly halfway through the opening stage when the jubilee clip holding the turbo pipe broke. We had to watch the oil pressure closely after that as a blown turbo often results in losing a lot of oil.

“We didn't have a spare on board so fixed it with plastic cable ties until we reached the first service.

“It made for a frustrating rally because, although we set some good times, we were always playing catch up - and that plays on your mind.”

Mann powered back into contention over the ensuing stages through the narrow and often bumpy Irish lanes - taking his Nortech Motorsport-prepared car to third fastest on stages six and eight and fourth quickest on stages three and five.

But, having climbed to sixth entering the final stage, the turbo pipe popped off again and cost them another minute in their pursuit of the leaders.

“At this stage we are not quite sure why it kept coming adrift,” rued Mann.

Some consolation was that the steering rack failed on the Audi A3 Quattro's of pre-event Championship leader David Kynaston, just a few hundred yards into the opening stage - his first non-finish of the season.

Defending Champion Steve Simpson inherited the series lead but also had his scoring reduced by a puncture on the last stage, which pushed his Hyundai out of the top 10.

The eventful Irish leg of the Asphalt Championship leaves a mere 12 points between the top five drivers with the next round not until August 24

Mann and Cook's never-say-die display in the face of adversity also saw them return to England with the John Price Rallying “Star Drive” salver - as recognition by the organisers of their titanic efforts.

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