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'New wheels' for Mann

PUBLISHED: 09:33 25 August 2009 | UPDATED: 08:27 01 August 2010

DAVID Mann and Alun Cook will have "new wheels" beneath them when they renew their challenge for honours on Sunday.

They are competing in the Richard Egger MSA National Asphalt Championship on the Eventsigns Mewla Rally in Wales.

DAVID Mann and Alun Cook will have “new wheels” beneath them when they renew their challenge for honours on Sunday.

They are competing in the Richard Egger MSA National Asphalt Championship on the Eventsigns Mewla Rally in Wales.

Mushroom farmer Mann has purchased a former factory Subaru Impreza S9 that was once driven to the 2003 World Championship by Norway's Petter Solberg, having in recent years tenaciously campaigned a much older version of the same car.

But the technological differences between Mann's ageing 1999 Impreza and the much newer or more powerful vehicles of many of his Asphalt Championship rivals have made chasing the title somewhat akin to running after Usain Bolt, so the East Anglian driver is now eagerly looking forward to new opportunities:

“I'm pretty excited,” admits Mann, from Flixton, “I haven't had the chance to drive it yet and it's important I do before we go to Wales.

“The car is currently with Stuart Hall of Nortech Motorsport, who is restoring it to its original left-hand drive spec' and is giving it a thorough check.

“One of the major differences is it has a paddle gear-changer on the steering wheel and this will be the first time I've used one.

“It was the car that Solberg actually clinched the title on in the Wales Rally GB at the end of the 2003 season.

“We're very pleased that Stuart has arranged for us to be sponsored on this rally by local Subaru (also Volvo and Peugeot) dealership Keith Price Garages from Abergavenny.

“That's a terrific boost and it's always nice to have local support.

“I'm quite pleased to stand second in the series as Melvyn Evans (who has won all five previous rounds) has been uncatchable and he has got an even newer Impreza S12 now.

“We cannot win the championship, although Alun could still take the co-driver's crown as Sean Mullally (who navigator for Evans) has missed a round and still needs another score to be certain.”

Cook, from Caerphilly, was also absent from the last round in order to get married but resumes his lengthy partnership with Mann - a combination that took them to the National Rally six years ago.

The competition in the Mewla Rally is fierce with last year's event winner Damian Cole leading the 120-strong field away from the start at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, closely followed by Evans, 2008 Asphalt Champion David Kynaston, Mann at number five and 2007 title winner Steve Simpson. The nine-stage, 90 stage miles rally takes place around the military firing ranges at Epynt and is due to finish back at the Showground around 5pm.

2009 Richard Egger Insurance MSA Asphalt Rally Championship

(positions after round five)

Drivers: 1 Melvyn Evans (Subaru Impreza S11) 125, 2 David Mann (Kumho Tyres Subaru Impreza) 85, 3 Roger Donnan (Ford Puma) 85.

Co-drivers: 1 Sean Mullally100, 2 Alun Cook 86, 3 Christopher Evans 65.

David Mann and Alun Cook 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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