Success for Frank and Ross In Dramatic Rallye Du Maroc Historique!
May 25, 2014 by Andrew Bushe
For Frank Cunningham and his co-driving nephew Ross Forde from Galway, the 2014 Rallye Du Maroc Historique was one of trials and tribulations, impending drama and fight-backs. It was a real team effort, where the men wielding the spanners played as big a part in keeping their 250 horse power MK2 Escort in this gruelling 5000 kilometre rally. To finish eighth overall after all the set-backs was just reward for the efforts of the Galway Mini Centre/C-Sport team who completed two gear-box changes, a rear axle change, a complete front right side suspension change and all the routine checks in the searing heat! “It could have been a lot better, with-out our ten minute delays, but you have to accept the good and the bad in rallying” commented a tired Frank. “As an experience however this event was phenomenal. We were in some of the remote places in the world, and the stages were as good as anywhere we have rallied. It felt a lot tougher than last year, and I think the reason for that was a 10-15% increase in pace.”
On Saturday’s final stages Frank and Ross took third fastest times on each test, as they powered to eighth from an over-night tenth. At the end of Monday’s stage they were back to thirtieth after an off-road excursion when the car wouldn’t select a gear. The team completed a gear-box change only to find the replacement had a glitch so another swift change was made. On Tuesday a fine days attack brought them up to fifteenth, despite drama on the final test when he slid wide and broke a rear wheel. On day four Wednesday an emergency axle change had to be undertaken, but progress was made to eleventh.
Thursday, day five and they climbed to ninth, despite a wheel parting company with the car at the end of the second test! Swift work by the chase crew had a new front suspension into the car in ten minutes. Friday, and they dropped one place to tenth, trying to preserve the car on the very rough sections, before Saturday’s final attack brought them to the finish in Marrakesh in eighth place. “The team have been amazing” says Frank. “They had a never say die attitude, especially when we had our early time loss, and they performed miracles under pressure. The car they built also stood up to the rigours of this tough rally very well.”
Without the time loss a top three place was on the cards, so is there unfinished business for 2015? “I’m so tired now, it’s hard to think, but I’d say we could be back alright! I’ve learnt a little bit more about the car now. For example when we changed the axle, the new higher ratio worked so much better for me and we had much less wheel-spin. There were stages were we were faster than winner JF Berenguer and I think we could record a top three place. Next on the cards is the Silver Fern Rally in New Zealand, and we are building a new MK2 before that event.”