SURROUNDED by the deafening sound of revving engines, clouds of smoke and a sickening smell of exhaust fumes, at 2.00pm on Saturday March 31st a bullhorn signified the official start to one of the wackiest car rallies on the racing calendar – The Maroc Challenge Raid.
Five rally days and 2,000 kilometres of driving through barren and often unforgiving Moroccan desert sands, up and over rugged mountains, and then, hopefully crossing the finishing line located at the northern coastal town of Essaouira on May 6th.
One helluva challenge for any rally driver, let alone a load of crazy amateurs driving 17 to 25 year old bangers of all makes, shapes and sizes, most salvaged from scrap yards.
The two starting points for the Spring Rally were Lisbon in Portugal and the Costa Blanca resort of Javea, where a motley mix of around 35 colourful teams joined in the fun and laughs with the many spectators who had gathered to inspect the various modes of transport, before they wended their way southwards to join the Lisbon entrants at the Almeria car ferry terminal.
Amongst the many characters taking part were two Italian motorcyclists, an enthusiastic Spanish lady driver and ‘La Marina Raiders,’ comprising of expats Brian and Bob who like most of the teams, had filled their car with gifts including a boot of cuddly toys destined to bring smiles to the faces of some of many underprivileged kids living in basic conditions along the desert route.
Organiser Rui Cabaco, who accompanies the rally from start to finish, joined Javea Councillor for tourism Antonio Miragall in wishing all competitors a safe and enjoyable low cost Maroc Challenge Rally.
At the time of going to press, unconfirmed reports suggest that the EWN entry, driven by Richard and Paul from Quesada near Torrevieja, suffered a small delay at the start when their fuel pump gave-up-the-ghost and a stray dog nicked their sandwiches.
But after emergency duct tape repairs and taking on-board a generous gift of six bags of cheese and onion crisps, they said they hoped to arrive at the Almeria ferry before sailing time.
They are driving a 25 year, two wheel drive, Golf GTi mark 2, with at least 250,000 km on the clock.
By Benny Davis