FIA, teams confirm Jordan presence
|By David Evans||Friday, April 1st 2011, 11:44 GMT|
The FIA and the World Rally Championship teams have confirmed their attendance at the Jordan Rally - with last-minute planning ensuring a new route for the trucks carrying the kit into the Dead Sea.
All the logistics for the WRC - Ford, Citroen, Michelin and North One Sport - will now go in through the Israeli port of Haifa before heading south-east to cross the border into Jordan.
The agreement was signed off yesterday morning and confirmed by the teams today. The boat will depart from Trieste not Venice and the trucks are departing Faro bound for the port today (Friday).
The logistics were re-routed after the recent violence and political unrest in Syria. Human rights groups have estimated more than 60 protestors have been killed in Syria in recent weeks.
A source told AUTOSPORT: "The decision was taken not to go through Syria, the option then was to go through the Suez Canal, but it was going to be difficult to get the kit to the Dead Sea in time for the start of the recce.
"Haifa and Israel was the next option and we've made that work. The final schedule for the boat has yet to be sorted, but it's likely to leave on April 6 and arrive on April 10. From there it will short journey to the Dead Sea. It's been a little bit hectic, but we've got there."
Ford's Malcolm Wilson admitted he was pleased with the outcome, saying: "Competitive mileage is important in these new cars. Testing is one thing, but getting out on another gravel rally is good for us, you always learn more when you've got the numbers on the door."
The initial reluctance to go through Israel was believed to be linked to the potential high-level of bureaucracy involved with the logistics of transporting the WRC into and out of the country.
The drivers of the trucks will have to park on the boat in Trieste and then make their own way to the port in Haifa, they are not permitted to accompany the vehicles.
The president of the FIA's World Rally Commission Jarmo Mahonen confirmed the fourth round of the WRC via an email, stating: "[The] FIA has monitored the situation in Jordan and being in touch with the event organizer [sic] latest today. [The] FIA's position is that Jordan Rally 2011 shall be taking place on earlier decided dates.
"The organisers have assured FIA they can offer a safe WRC event on their soil. Organiser and the Promoter are prepared to give all the competitors recommendations for safe arrival and departure routes to their event."
The Jordan Rally starts on Wednesday April 13 and finishes on Saturday April 16, running as it did last year, a day earlier to accommodate the Arabic weekend which is Thursday-Friday and not Saturday-Sunday.