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GP Week : Issue 7
FOLLOWING last year’s Rally Ireland, Jordan will be the second new venue for the FIA World Rally Championship within six months. In earlier times, new events seemed to come along once every two years or so. Novelties are becoming the norm, teams are getting used to thinking on their feet.. One of the first problems concerning Jordan was the definition of the event. Was this officially a ‘long haul,’ or a ‘European’ rally? On this rested the selection of support equipment that teams had to bring. According to Ken Rees, coordinator for Subaru World Rally Team, it is “half and half.” “It is long haul in transport arrangements,” says Rees, “but we will bring European-event equipment, so visually the service park will look like a normal European event. This is because we have to take it all away to Sardinia afterwards.” Every novelty event brings the unexpected, good and bad. Difficulties experienced so far are that sea freight transportation costs are more than originally budgeted by teams, insurance has to be covered locally, not through usual sources, and hotels have also proved to be more expensive than expected. There were also late changes in the members in the event’s organisation. “This meant we had to discuss our arrangements with people all over again,” adds Rees. “Good thing is that the several experienced rally people from Finland have been recruited, so the sporting side of the event should go smoothly, and we just hope there will be no hiccups in the practicalities”. Unexpected factors also concern the heat. Rees: “We are used to hot service parks in places like Greece and Turkey, but we do not know to what extent the Dead Sea area will soak up the heat in the middle of the day.” Drivers are eagerly awaiting their first sight of the stages, and these are quite special. The way that the promoters have built stretches of dust free road especially for the event is unique, and the ultra- smooth surfaces have caused teams to wonder whether the selected hard compound tyres will be better than the alternative soft version. Teams are at ease over security issues, having taken the decision to send their equipment via the seaport at Aqaba. Then there is the effect of the negative elevation of the stages. First impression from teams is this is not likely to be as significant as going up to 3000 metres above sea level in Mexico. A lot of questions will be answered by Sunday night … Heading into the unkown Okay, so the sand of Jordan might be a lot different to the the green of Ireland, but the fact of the matter is, new events are flavour of the month 38