LSPR – Rally America Newsletter – Long Distance Driver

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Long Distance Driver

Poland’s Andy Mancin will certainly win the award for traveling the furthest to compete in the Lake Superior Performance Rally, but he hopes that’s not the only hardware he brings back home.
By David Gee

This accomplished Polish rally competitor, traveling for the first time to the U.S. to compete in this week’s Rally America event in Michigan, says he owes his passion for motorsports to his family. His father is Italian and they lived for some years in Turin, near the famed Monza race circuit. He says after falling in love with the sound of race cars he made the decision to try racing himself.

He competed in the European Alfa Challenge behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 147 GTA, making his debut at none other than the Monza track. He also competed in long-distance races and won three championship titles in the 2004 season.

He eventually took up rallying, starting out in the Polish Rally Cup in an N-Class Fiat Stilo Abarth, and moving up to a Mitsubishi Evo in international rally competition. In his last four international events Mancin placed 32nd overall and 11th in Group N in the 2007 Rally Monte Carlo, 34th overall and 9th in Group N at the 2007 Rally Finland, 19th overall at the 2007 Rally San Marino and 17th overall and 13th in class at the 2007 Rally Poland.

In this Q & A we talked to Mancin about his expectations for this week’s Lake Superior Performance Rally.

Q: What are your goals for this event?

A: It will be for sure a brand new experience for me and really it’s hard to know what to expect for a result. I will try my very best to be close to the first cars. In rally, besides talent and a good car, you need lots of luck.

Q: How this event be different – or simiar – to events you have done in Europe?

A: I know I will struggle a little with the fact that no recce is allowed at this event. My rally friends in the USA have already told me that Lake Superior is very similar to Rally Finland; hard based surface, wide roads, very fast with a lot of jumps. I love to jump with my rally car! Looking at the stage schedule, I don’t see too much of a difference from the events I usually run in Europe , besides the short 15 minutes services. Maciek, my co-driver for this event, has already competed at Lake Superior last year with another driver from Poland, so I’m not too worried.

Q: How different will your car set-up be from what you run in other international events?

A: It was shipped over here by air right after the penultimate run of the Polish Championship. We haven’t done many changes to the car, besides installing the bigger, 34mm restrictor, allowed by Rally America regulations, so basically the car is a Group N car with a larger restrictor. From my experience in this sport, horsepower is not as important as traction and setup. For example, WRC Cars don’t exceed 300-horsepower.

In Poland we only have two events on gravel and the rest of the championship consists of tarmac events. However, thanks to our Finnish friends, we have been able to test a lot on gravel, particularly with Finnish star Jani Paasonen, and we were able to achieve a near perfect gravel setup.

Q: How are you doing in the Polish Championship currently?

A: We run three Mitsubishis in the Polish Rally Championship and we rent and run our cars with the help of nine full time technicians. I am currently sitting second in the standings. We are also distributors of parts like Motec, ATL and Extream Tech dampers, currently used by the Citroen WRC team. For this event we are joining forces with the team of Arkadiusz Gruszka and two of my techs have been in Chicago helping complete his new car for the event.

Q: What are your future rally plans?

A: For the future we don’t have any set programs yet. It would be very interesting though for us to compete in the Rally America Championship in 2009!

Q: Irishman Niall McShea was the last European rally driver to come over this year to compete in a one-off Rally America event. And he won that event at STPR! Do you hope for a similar result?

A: Niall McShea is a very good driver with a lot of experience, especially on gravel, thanks to years of hard work and a lot of time spent testing. I think Rally America is intriguing a lot of competitors overseas and we may see many more of them competing in USA in the future.

Q: Has the international rally community heard of our stars like Travis Pastrana and Ken Block?

A: Of course. They have a great talent and reputation, together with the Subaru Rally Team USA and the Rally America championship which is followed all around Europe. I have never raced against Travis and Ken, but I think they should continue pursuing in the PWRC. They have had some problems with the recce in WRC, where you have a limited number of runs and time available to complete the recce of the stages and that’s not easy.

I have seen their times in PWRC and I have been impressed, like I have when I saw Ken’s stunts from the SnowParkNZ videos. I also have had experience with Extreme sports in the past, from MotoX, RallyX, snowboarding, snowmobiling and so on, but I have never seen two nuts like those two.

Q: How do you think the level of competition might compare overall with what you see in Europe?

A: As far as the level of preparation of their cars and the other ones in the RA championship, I wouldn’t know how to answer yet, as I don’t know these cars.

Q: Does Rally America have a following over in Europe and conversely do you expect some nice crowds to cheer you on here?

A: Rally America is followed a lot in Poland, though the Internet and rally forums. I was in Chicago this past January and we had a lot of fun, besides receiving a warm welcome from the rally fans and friends in the Chicago area. I was very happy about that and I think there will be a lot of Polish fans on the stages of the rally, cheering for us. I expect to see a lot of Polish flags as well. I want to thank the Rally Autoclub in Chicago and the Gruszka team for their help in making the participation at the Lake Superior event possible for me.

Q: What kind of result would make you happy at Lake Superior?

A: First of course!


~ by lsprblog on October 17, 2008.

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