Bob Fowden will return to the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship on the Masterpixel Media Manx National Rally (10-11 May) – exactly a year after a fire badly damaged his Comline Auto Parts/NGK-backed Subaru Impreza WRC S11 on the Isle of Man event.
The Llanelli legend had made a cautious start to the Manx, completing a very wet SS2 in 18th place – but had fought back magnificently to fourth by the overnight halt. He was looking forward to continuing that push on day two, but towards the end of SS10 Fowden’s ex-Petter Solberg Subaru caught fire when a broken exhaust manifold ignited a blaze that quickly destroyed the engine bay and wiring loom.
It has taken nine months to repair the car, and whilst Fowden entered the Rallynuts National Tour of Epynt, he didn’t start the opening round of the Asphalt Rally Championship.
“I was not totally comfortable with the car, and the Epynt ranges are not a place to risk a potentially disastrous incident to either car, or myself and my co-driver Aled Davies,” said Fowden. “Thus I took a very hard last minute decision not to start the event. That was a major disappointment after the team had worked so hard to complete the car, but was I feel the right decision.”
Fowden (co-driven by his eldest son Paul) will now contest this Sunday’s Altratech SMC Stages at Anglesey Circuit as a shakedown for Manx National, using the single-venue event to make further ride height, steering and suspension set-up adjustments to the Impreza.
“This weekend is something of a development experiment, and we will see how things work,” added Fowden. “If successful they may be an advantage for our next event, which will also be on fast tarmacadam.”