31/05/2011 by D.O.T
It is only when sod’s law intervenes that you realise just how we all rely on everything going according to plan, which it usually does. Last year’s movement of the World Rally Championship to and from Jordan was the exception that proves the rule, and everything that could go wrong did!
The plan was for the teams to board a RoRo ferry at Trieste and sail to western Turkey, from where the massive convoy of trucks would travel through Syria and into Jordan. However, with one week to go, the increasing unrest in Syria meant the chosen route had to be scrapped and an alternative created in record time. Routing via the Red Sea was ruled out as too expensive and across Egypt as impractical. Haifa, Israel offered the best solution, but the chosen ferry could not sail in Israeli waters, so now an alternative vessel had to be sourced.
The problems appeared to be over – in fact, they were only just beginning! Twelve hours out of port, one of the ship’s two engines failed, reducing its speed from 22 to 11 knots and placing us ever further behind schedule. When we finally arrived at Haifa, the weather was so bad the ferry could not dock on its one engine alone, and by the time the sea had calmed, the second engine had given up the ghost and the boat had to be towed into harbour.
Dry land offered little respite, with customs niggles and document problems slowing progress yet more. Had it not been for the relentless determination and resourcefulness of D.O.T staff, the Jordan round of the WRC championship may well have been lost to circumstance. As it was, only the recce had to be cancelled and the rally itself not only took place, but provided the closest finish in WRC history, with Sebastien Ogier (Citroën) beating Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) by an astonishing 0.2 seconds!
D.O.T then safely moved the entire circus to Sardinia via Salerno in time for the Italian round of the series. Said D.O.T’s Sales and Marketing Director Alistair Crompton: “The problems came thick and fast with this project. Inevitably some of the people involved were more sympathetic than others, but it was only the experience of our team and their refusal to be beaten that saved the event from cancellation. I’m very proud of what we achieved in extraordinary circumstances, the like of which I hope we don’t encounter again - not for a while at least!”