25 March 2012, Missor/Nador
Distance400Km, 138Km competitive over 2 special stages
WeatherLight rain early on, overcast, 18deg
SummaryThe final day of competition in Morocco and the penultimate day of the event overall saw a superb performance for the two Race2Recovery crews, despite the fact that they knew they had to complete the day with no service crew support. The team had to leave the overnight halt at Missor shortly after the drivers retired to bed to make a lunchtime ferry to return to Spain and hence the crews of Tony Harris and Ben Gott, and Dave Marsh and Tom Neathway had to ensure they made it to the port intact.
The conditions were more like those the crews were used to from their competition in the British Cross Country Championship and selected events in the UK - rocky tracks and dried riverbeds, with the memory of the African desert sand dunes behind them.
They clearly revelled in the circumstances - Dave and Tom set a blistering pace in the Orange Plant Wildcat on the first of the day's two special stages, claiming what the team hopes will be their second stage win but suffered a puncture on stage two, losing time.
Tony was driving the RatCat and was also clearly at home in the conditions. With Ben navigating, they also set a storming pace on the second and pending official confirmation from the organisers, arrived at the head of the field and hopefully, claimed their first stage win, potentially bringing the team's tally to three over the course of the event.
Both cars arrived at the port of Nador with no issues and ready for the team to check them over briefly when the boat docks tomorrow morning, ready for the final navigational section and short special stage leading to the finish in Mojacar, Spain.
Barney Gillespie was also back in action, co-driving for Jonnie Koonja in another Qt Wildcat. They were also setting a superb pace, finishing the first special stage just behind Dave and Tom and the second, just a minute behind Tony and Ben.
Tony Harris, driver:
"Today was an absolutely brilliant day. The conditions suited our experience so far and we were able to relax and enjoy the driving. We knew that the service team were travelling back to Spain as we began so we were aware not to take any unnecessary risks, as there was no opportunity for service during the day but we settled into a rhythm and just enjoyed it.
"We had a fantastic run in the second of the two special stages and caught and passed several cars during the stage, so we hope that we might have claimed our first stage win together. We won't know for sure until the results are issued much later this evening but the day went really well and we're very pleased with the driving and the navigating.
"We're all really sad to be leaving Morocco - we've had such an amazing experience here, particularly in the dunes and while we've learned a huge amount, we also know that there is so much more experience to gain. We've also learned a lot about the Wildcats and how to get the best from them, as well as me understanding more about how my leg reacts on long distance, endurance events. Today was the first time I have driven all day, including the liaison and navigational sections using the clutch and it held up really well, so I'm very pleased indeed."
Tom Neathway, Co-driver
"Today has been fantastic. The stages were a lot closer to what we're used to, with waddies, dried-up river beds and waterfalls and more like trials than stages. We knew we had to take things slightly easy, as with no service possible, we were on our own so we just drove our own stages and went through the first stage very well. In fact, we think we might have won that stage, making two for us in total and if this is the case, then that's a brilliant result.
"We couldn't carry that on for the second stage though, as we sliced another tyre on the sharp rocks and lost time because of that. But we were still pushing where it was safe - I think we topped 140kph during the stage while Tony and Ben only managed 120kph... Of course we were disappointed not to take another win but if it is confirmed that Tony and Ben won, then that's great."
Tomorrow's routeThe eighth and final day of the 2012 Tuareg Rally sees the crews disembark the overnight ferry in Almeria and travel to the finish in Mojacar, 110Km away. Part is navigational and runs through a dried river gorge with a short special stage to end the event, around 13.00 local time.
Help for Heroes and Tedworth House
Tedworth House is a stately home on the edge of the garrison town of Tidworth. The MOD has owned it since 1897 when it was acquired along with the training area of Salisbury Plain. In February 2011 it was leased to Help for Heroes for a peppercorn rent of £1 per annum for 99 years.
Help for Heroes committed to funding £20m for the renovation and creation of new accommodation wings and state of the art gymnasium and a wellness centre.
Help for Heroes takes responsibility for the operational management of Tedworth House and the annual operating costs are met by Help for Heroes with a substantial 10 year annual contribution committed by The Royal British Legion. The MOD and other service charities and sponsors are expected to contribute further.
Race2Recovery is hugely grateful to Help for Heroes for the grant that has allowed them to take part in this rally. It has been such a key event for the team that without the support of Help for Heroes, the team's first international event probably would not have been possible.