The 2017 Morocco Historic Rally has been a true rallying roller coaster so far, with an epic battle for the lead overshadowed by the sad loss of a great competitor in his Porsche 911.
RIP Gérard Brianti
Gérard Brianti was a passionate rallyiste and described by many as one of life’s gentlemen. Well known in historic rallying circles, Gérard’s greatest success was victory at the Monte Carlo Historic rally in 2013, driving his Group 4 Alpine A110. A popular member of the Automobile Club of Monaco, he also held the vice-presidency of ASM, the football club of the Principality. Gérard was 64 years old and his premature departure leaves many good memories with the rallying community. We extend sincere condolences to Gérard’s family and friends. Photo courtesy of Jérôme Didier.
The loss of Gérard and concern for the injuries suffered by his co-driver, Freddy Delorme, led to the Bernard Munster Automotive team’s retirement from the rally, as a mark of respect for their team mates. The retirees included Gregoire de Mevius and co-drive Alain Guehennec, who had been enjoying a close battle in their Porsche 911 RS against Philippe Gache and Stéphane Prevot, in the Mazda RX7. When Gregoire’s car lost a wheel on one stage, Gache and Prevot seized their chance.
Morocco Historic Rally standings
At the end of SS23 and heading into the last day, Gache continues to lead, more than three minutes up on the Sunbeam Lotus of Barrile/Chiappe. Gache is one of the favourites on this year’s East African Safari Classic Rally in Kenya and Tanzania – which I should be travelling out for again – and the third-placed car is another confirmed Safari Classic Rally crew: Jorge Perez-Companc and Jose Volta in the Ford Escort RS 1800, prepared by Phil Mills at Viking Motorsport.
In fourth place, just two minutes behind Jorge, is the hard-charging Porsche 911 RS of Belgium’s Joost van Cauwenberge and Steven Vyncke. Joost’s car hails from the Tuthill Porsche stable and my good friend Francis is out with Joost in support. The 911 took overall victory on last year’s Rally of the Incas and is certainly challenging for a podium finish.
Accompanying the sadness of losing a competitor on an event, there is often a sense that the competitors fight on in memory of their comrade. No doubt all those who live and breathe rallying are fiercely determined to give passionate rally competitors a memorable send-off. With crews now doubly motivated and racing in honour of Gérard, it will be thrilling to follow the rally’s last day.
It’s great to see a mix of machinery at the front of the field and so many other interesting cars down the order, including the Citroen SM Bandama which is confirmed to rally in Kenya this year and a wonderful Lancia Stratos which may also be seen on the Safari Classic: one of the last proper marathon-stage historic events remaining.
RIP Steve Troman
I must also pay tribute to another popular Porsche rallyist and 911 collector, as Steve Troman sadly left us recently. Always ready to talk Porsche at the drop of a hat, Steve had a beautiful collection of cars and was a great help to me personally at one stage, when he shipped my 912E home from the west coast with some of his own cars a few years ago.
When I say Steve’s collection included some of the very best 911s ever made, I mean exactly that, without exaggeration. He was a connoisseur of modified 911s and had exceptional taste in the machines. He will be deeply missed by a great many people. RIP Steve.
Steve’s brothers have set up a Just Giving page here. Please take a look, as it is supporting a very important charity. Main photo is of Steve in action on Safari Classic 2013 – credit McKlein.