Alastair's Blog

2CV in Marrakech Express turns out to be a winner!

Alastair Caldwell - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Winners in a lovely Citroen 2CV!

When Graham Nash was in Morocco writing Marrakesh Express I had recently left New Zealand and I was starting to make a name for myself at McLaren F1. I never crossed paths with Crosby, Stills and Nash but the words of the song could have been written for me as they were as relevant then as they were during this hard fought rally:

"Had to get away to see what we could find
Hope the days that lie ahead
Bring us back to where they've led"

Just how I felt in 1966 when I left New Zealand 'looking for new adventures' and on my arrival in Morocco for the 2014 Marrakech Express Rally, looking forward to the 'days ahead' and hoping to get around and to the finish line in one piece. And we did - finishing in style in first place!

There were 15 runners in the race and to level the playing field all the 2CVs were supplied by the organisers, 2CV Adventures:

I know a lot of you have been following me on facebook and twitter so I'll try not to repeat myself here and there are lots of photos on this page that I didn't get a chance to post - so enjoy them!

We started in Malaga in Spain and the route took us through Malaga city centre to Tarifa and onward to Tangier, Meknes, Beni Mallal, Marrakech. Then it was back to Malaga via a different route of Ouarzazate, Merzouga, Midelt, Chefchaouen, Tangier and across the finish line back in Malaga. During the rally we went through the massive Todra Gorge and the glorious Atlas Mountains covering just over 3,000 km.

I completed the rally with my good friend Hayden Burvill, Porsche fanatic, and owner of WEVO Porsche specialist parts company who came over from California to co-drive. We know each other well as we did the London to Capetown rally together a few years back.

The great thing about the rally is that the organisers ensured that we had plenty of time to take in the sights as we went across Spain and Morocco:

Day 1 – Malaga to Tarifa 184kms - all lined up with the 2CVs we'd spend the next 2 weeks in....

Day 2 – Tarifa to Tangier to Meknes 290kms - on the ferry and into the hills for some 'casual racing'

Day 3 – Meknes to Beni Mallal 348kms - into the Middle Atlas mountains, through the Bab Mansour gates and the ancient town Place el Hedim and on to Ifran known as the Switzerland of Morocco because it is so near to ski resorts

 

Day 4 – Beni Mallal to Marrakech 265kms - the first real mountain challenge and a testing Regularity section – 470m to 1320m climb in 50kms!

Day 5 – Marrakech - a rest day (!) and a chance to visit the world famous Jemaa El-Fna Square.

Day 6 – Marrakech to Ouarzazate 212kms - 100kms of competition climbing out of Marrakech on the famous Tizi n’Test, a demanding 20kms that climb 1,000metres and then back down through the Berber villages and deep river gorges, ending up at Ait Behaddou, the Hollywood of Morocco - so called because it has been the location of many famous films from Sean Connery's 1975 'The Man Who Would Be King' through to the James Bond classic 'The Living Daylights' and more recently the TV series 'Game of Thrones'.

 

            

Day 7 – Ouarzazate to Merzouga 377kms - out into a flat stony desert and views of the Grand Canyon of Morocco and a 10kms regularity section.

Day 8 – Merzouga Camp - Technically a rest day but instead we took to the desert for a bit of fun in the dunes.

Day 9 – Merzouga to Midelt 380kms - Long trek (7.5 hours) but beautiful mountains, gorges and some wonderful competition. 

            
Day 10 – Midelt to Fes 315kms - high passes of the Middle Atlas mountain range then on to the quiet roads of Imouzzer Marmoucha.

Day 11 – Fez to Chefchaouen 330kms - as we came out of Fez we went into the Rif mountains - a full day of twists and turns!

Day 12 – Chefchaouen to Tangier to Malaga 298kms - that's it, the last day and over the winning line in first place!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Few of my Favourite Things - Mike Read - BBC Radio interview

Alastair Caldwell - Thursday, February 28, 2013

I had a great time yesterday when I visited BBC Radio Berkshire and chatted with the DJ Mike Read on his feature 'A Few of my Favourite Things'. You can listen to the interview on BBC iPlayer (the interview starts about 2 hours and 6 minutes in, straight after The Electric Light Orchestra's Livin' Thing).

Mike obviously knows his stuff when it comes to music but he also has a keen interest in cars which came out as we discussed my F1 career, McLaren and James Hunt - who Mike had met several times in James' heyday and we recalled his 'lively approach'!

It was also good to reminisce about music, books and TV shows as we ran through some of my favourite things:


» my favourite song - The Beatles, Yesterday, and my memories of George Harrison, a motor enthusiast
» my favourite TV show - Fawlty Towers - John Cleese, a genius,  playing it straight and still funny after all these years
» my favourite film, Pulp Fiction - a great film with all the emotions and action in one place
» my favourite book - Catch 22, a great book - the last line made me laugh for weeks - read it to find out why!

Mike also quizzed me about the release of Rush in September this year. Can't wait to see the final film and watch Chris Hemsworth playing James Hunt and of course Stephen Mangan who is playing me in the film. But as I talk about what I've done and achieved it's still great to know that I was the first person to see the importance of self storage in the UK when I started Space Station Self Storage all those years ago. Now with storage locations along the M4 corridor it still fills me with pride when I look at the success we've had.

 

Listen to the full BBC interview with Mike Read here.
The interview starts about 2 hours and 6 minutes in, straight after The Electric Light Orchestra's Livin' Thing.

 

 


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