During the intervening period, I heard from Porsche AG, that Dave Richards of newly formed Prodrive in Aylesbury, England had agreed to run a Porsche 911SC RS in the Middle East Really Championship with Saeed Al Hajri as their driver, sponsored by Rothmans.
Prior to this time we knew Dave Richards as a very successful co-driver and he went on and was connected with Opel, which was entered into the 1983 Bahrain International Rally, where we had met him. However this news did not bother me, but it did shoot down one of my reasons that we should enter motor sport ourselves.
At that point we had committed to going ahead with our own Porsche rally project, although I got a very negative telephone call from Ed Peter. Porsche Export Manager, once he “apparently” found out what we were doing, saying. “You should sell the car and let Rothmans do all the rallying.” I told him we had put months of planning and effort into our project, met and liaised with Jürgen Barth at Weissach and signed contracts with sponsors Gulf Air, so we could not back out at this stage. In any event, I told him that Herbert Layda who worked for him had actually suggested we buy the car and it was Herbert who put me in touch with Jürgen Barth in the first place! I told him frankly, “You should have kept us in the loop much earlier so we knew what was going on, instead on coming to us after we have made our plans and signed contracts”, which he did not like one bit.
Over the next few weeks Rob and his team got the car finally finished and it looked fantastic painted up in Gulf Air’s colours. We arranged for some publicity photographs with Gulf Air cabin crew girls and Neil Stafford of Eagle Recordings Studios took some video footage for us during some off road testing sessions in Bahrain. Gulf Air did all the P.R. and got coverage in the local and regional press and magazines (unfortunately all this material has been lost to me but it may show up some day).
We had entered the car in 1984 Middle East Championship rallies in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and Dubai which all made up the first ever FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC) that year.
Chris Walles and his co-driver Gordon Turley did some shake down runs and we kept fine-tuning the set-up until Rob and Chris were both happy with it.
After months of planning, lots of never ending hard work, we had our small rally team and were ready to go!