Frank and Ross Charge Back Towards Top Ten In Rallye Du Maroc Historique!
May 22, 2014 by Andrew Bushe
For Frank Cunningham and his co-driving nephew Ross Forde from Galway, are now starting the fifth day of the Rallye Du Maroc Historique and have climbed back to eleventh place, after dropping to thirtieth after day two dramas.
On the first prologue stage on Sunday the Galway Mini Centre/C-Sport team were ideally placed in tenth and on the first proper stage on Monday set a joint fastest time. After the days third test, they were a fine seventh, just 47 seconds off the lead. Then on the final stage Frank fell foul of a tightening corner- slid off on some rocks and dropped five minutes to 30th.
“It was a simple mistake, a tightening corner and when I went to change down to second it wouldn’t go in! We were heading sideways into a dyke, so I straightened it up to try to clear it, but we didn’t quite clear it. I thought we could drive out, but when I went to hit the starter-nothing. There were big rocks and an awful clatter underneath when I slid wide. The starter was damaged so we had to get out and push start. It wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been an up-hill push!” said Frank.
After two gear-box changes, the first on proving to be faulty and another one having to be slotted in, they started day three-Tuesday, and climbed from 30th to 15th overall. “We had two sixth fastest times and one third fastest on a good long 30 kilometre stage. The car felt really good on that one and I thoroughly enjoyed it, really got into it. We pushed on Tuesday, and boy was it hot work in the Escort!” There was drama however on the last test, as Frank clipped a rock and broke the back wheel. “Trust me to go sideways and clip the only rock in the sand! We picked up a puncture, but there was only 2 kilometres to go so we drove to the finish. It cost us a few seconds but thankfully the axle and car seemed fine.”
Day four Wednesday also presented more challenges for the hard working crew with a back axle bearing becoming noisy, and a swift change of axle was carried out during the day. “The stages were very rough today, real tough going, the toughest we have ever done, and we had to take it easy on the car in places” commented co-driver Ross. With the altitudes also climbing carburettor jets were changed during the day and it was a day that brought progress up to 11th overall, now just over a minute off the top ten. Leader of the rally is Jean Francois Berengeur in a MK2 Escort, 57 seconds ahead of Bernard Munster in a Porsche 911. Philippe Gauche- Mazda RX7 is third with Gregoire De Mevius fourth in a Nissan 240RS. Just like in the 80′s great variety on the Rallye Du Maroc Historique! Today four tests totalling 71.5kms, finishes in Ifrane, then two more tough days before the finish in Marrakech, where the team hopefully will have completed this 5000 kilometre rally adventure.