Rain stops play in Morocco rally
- 12th October 2010, 10:34am
Heavy rain fell throughout the early morning as the competitors left parc ferme in Marrakech, bound eastwards towards Ouarzazate. By the time they reached the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, the rain had turned into a torrent - making the visibility practically zero and turning the roads into a rocky skating rink.
The opening stage started off with a river crossing, but the spectacular crossing had become a raging rapid with a vicious current by the time the crews arrived. With the weather closing in further, the organisers had no option but to cancel the stage on safety grounds.
"It was absolutely the right decision," said Michele Mouton, who was competing in Morocco for the first time at the wheel of a Tuthill-prepared Porsche 911. "Even the road section to get to the first stage was tricky. In the past, in the old days, we used to have some terrible rallies in Africa with water up to the door handles if we were lucky: inside the car if we weren't! But with these cars there's absolutely no point in that and also we're all here to enjoy ourselves. When you have conditions like we had today, it's no fun at all."
Competitors then made their way to the start of the only other stage of the day, but with the rivers all now swollen to dangerous levels, SS5 went the same way as SS4 with a cancellation. Such was the force of the elements in Morocco that a landslide on the mountain road towards Ouarzazate also held up competing crew and media as they headed towards the overnight halt.
Rally director Paul-Eric Jarry commented: "Obviously the safety of our competitors is the number one priority. Having seen the conditions on the stages for myself, the only sensible decision was to cancel them, as the amount of water and rocks was too dangerous for the rally to safely use those roads. These unforeseen circumstances form part of he unpredictable nature of our sport, but we are confident that everything will be back on track tomorrow."
Consequently, the overall classification tonight remains identical to the order after day one, with Belgium's Gregoire de Mevius (Porsche 911) leading the rally by 34 seconds from Ford driver Geoff Bell. John Lloyd, in a Viking-prepared Ford Escort, is third.
The third day of stages take the competitors in a loop around Ouarzazate. Three stages are on the menu, totalling 219 competitive kilometres.
Top 10 classification after day two:
1 Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Nicolas Gilsoul (B) Porsche 911 2h06m54s
2 Geoff Bell (ZA)/Tim Challen (EAK) Porsche 911 2h07m28s
3 John Lloyd (GB)/Adrian Cavenagh (GB) Ford Escort 2h17m17s
4 Paul Darrouzet (AUS)/Jim Hurman (GB) Ford Capri Perana 2h19m13s
5 Steve Troman (GB)/Calvin Cooledge (GB) Porsche 911 2h19m42s
6 Aslam Khan (EAK)/Ashard Khan (EAK) Ford Escort 2h24m24s
7 Frederic Daunat (F)/Guy Chirqui (F) Citroen DS 2h28m05s
8 Jac Nelleman (DK)/Joseph Huber (CH) Porsche 911 2h31m07s
9 Michele Mouton (F)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Porsche 911 2h35m28s
10 Bjorn Waldegard (S)/Denis Giraudet (F) Peugeot 504 2h45m44s
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