Delays unlikely to halt Jordan Rally

Despite continued transport problems, the Jordan Rally is expected to go ahead as planned - with the recce starting on Tuesday morning in standard road cars

Delays unlikely to halt Jordan Rally

The boat transporting the recce cars and all the teams' kit from Italy to Israel has been delayed by an engine problem, but is expected to dock just in time for the teams to make the event happen.

Arrival in Haifa is scheduled for 1400 local time tomorrow. The customs closes at 1900 tomorrow night, but paperwork for the transfer from the boat and into Israel is already being worked on. The earliest the kit is likely to arrive in the service park in the Dead Sea is around midnight tomorrow, leaving the teams just over 24 hours to build a service infrastructure which usually takes four days.

The only overseas team currently in the service park is British-based outfit Autotek, which runs Nasser Al Attiyah's Ford Fiesta S2000. Autotek shunned the route taken by the factory teams and went via Greece and Cyprus, arriving in Israel late last week.

Prodrive's Paul Howarth, in Jordan running Daniel Oliveira's Mini, admitted the service park looked a strange place this afternoon.

"There aren't many trucks down there, put it that way," said Howarth. "This week is going to be a challenge, there's no doubt about that - but that's what this sport is about."

Several of the drivers are known to have raised questions over the safety aspect of completing the recce in standard road cars when they usually use Group N rally cars. Howarth, however, said the roads in Jordan should not cause too many problems.

"There's only the Dead Sea stage which is a little bit rough," he said. "Otherwise, running standard 4x4s won't be a problem. A lot of the S2000 boys recce in these kind of cars all the time, it's not going to be a problem.

"It's the same with getting service set up. It's not too bad for us, but for Citroen and Ford, they've got a timeframe to work in and when it's a situation like that, everybody digs in an gets it done."

The recce will start with the cars running the tracking systems used in the FIA Middle East Rally Championship as the safety equipment is in the North One Sport trucks on the delayed boat.

A source added: "It's okay to say the boat's coming at two tomorrow, but nothing is set in stone here. And how long is it going to take to come through customs? Some of the mechanics arrived into the port the other day and took three hours to get their passports stamped. Things can take as long as somebody wants them to take around here.

"Until the trucks are parked in service and the cars are off the ground and being worked on, we should nothing for granted. And when those trucks are going to be there remains the big, big, question."

The Jordan Rally is schedule to start on Thursday morning. To qualify as a full round of the WRC, the organisers must run at least 66 per cent of the route. It is possible the opening day of the event could be cancelled and the necessary mileage made up by adding one stage to Friday or Saturday. It is believed the organisers are looking into the potential for revising the route for the fourth round of the series.

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