Delayed Jordan Rally ready to start

This week's Jordan Rally will start with the seventh stage tomorrow and will run as a two-day event

Delayed Jordan Rally ready to start

The kit finally arrived in the Dead Sea service park at 0200 this morning as a 37-truck convoy which had a police escort from the Israeli border for the three-hour journey to the Dead Sea.

The service park was built overnight, but the last remaining hopes of running today's six stages competitively were extinguished when the Michelin trucks containing the tyres everybody needed were among the 12 vehicles detained a couple of hours longer in customs at Haifa.

"We were prepared to run today servicing the cars under easy-ups," said Ford co-ordinator John Millington. "We committed to coming here and, of course, we want to run the rally, but when we couldn't get the tyres, it was impossible."

Millington added that he never doubted the show would come together.

"It's the way our boys work. They started at two this morning and really didn't stop. We had a chef come in to make some breakfast and make sure they had some food, then a second shift came in at five and continued to get the job done. I never had any doubts that they could get everything sorted out."

Citroen team manager Sven Smeets added: "It was quite stressful to get the cars ready for scrutineering at 1030 this morning, but it's been stressful week for all of the guys who have been waiting for days and hours and then building the service park through the night.

"The problem for us in Jordan was that we had to change plans so many times. We didn't come the usual route to Aqaba because of the problems in Egypt, the advice was not to go through the [Suez] canal in case it was closed. So then the safe way was through Turkey, Syria and into Jordan.

"But then we needed different documents to go in and out of Turkey, so we said we would go direct to Syria to avoid that problem and, finally, the problems began in Syria so we had one week to find the solution."

The solution was to cancel the original freight bookings and charter a boat from Italy to Israel. After one engine failure, the boat arrived off the coast of Israel on Tuesday night, but the harbour pilot refused to dock the boat due to the weather conditions. When the boat was cleared to dock the next day, the second engine refused to start, leaving it stranded. Tug boats eventually brought the boat in to allow the teams to unload. It then took 14 hours from reaching dry land to arriving in the Dead Sea.

The organisers of the Jordan Rally have issued a bulletin, informing crews that the event starts from Time Control 6D, parc ferme out tomorrow morning at 0830.

Having participated in a two-hour shakedown, the crews have now gone to Jerash for a ceremonial start.

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