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!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media links updated

You can now post on facebook or twitter by clicking on the social media icons on the left of the page and follow me on facebook, twitter and youtube by clicking on the social media icons at the top right of the page (these are all at the base of the page on a tablets & mobile phones). If you want to share on other social media channels just click the '+' icon on the left and select another social media channel

 

End of the 'Road to Mandalay' on to 'Marrakech Express Rally' via New Zealand

Alastair Caldwell - Monday, March 03, 2014

Currently enjoying a 3 week break with my mother in New Zealand after we got to the end of the 'Road to Mandalay' rally. It was pretty good all round considering the number of problems we had. End results were:

Result: We came 3rd in class & 7th overall

As always I wanted to finish first in class and overall but it wasn't to be!

I posted an update when we were about halfway through, but because of terrible WiFi I wasn't able to post as regularly as I wanted so I saved it all up for an end of rally review! Here are some of the high points:

24th Jan: Up to the second week the Rally had been pretty good and Burma was just great. Everything in Burma is good, roads, people, scenery, food and the weather. Mother is also fantastic coping with everything, she's so alert and interested, and still continuing with the great navigation!

Other ralliests are suggesting that Mum should be in the Guinness book of records as the oldest rally navigator... now that's an idea! We stayed two nights in a hotel on Inle lake - it is just fantastic! Lovely hotel and lovely long boats that wisk you through wonderful scenes that are straight out of a Travel brochure. The Burmese people are just so nice and sweet it is almost too much. They have great reverence for age so treat Mother with great respect and tender care. It's so nice to be here and just loving everything about Burma. 

Here's Mum ready for the Guinness World Record for oldest rally navigator!

3rd Feb: Rally was still going really well and Mum was being just great and getting on famously with the rally and everyone involved. During this rally we were joined by Peter Hall, a Journalist from the Daily Telegraph, who wrote a weekly review column for the Telegraph website which you can check out by clicking here (see below for links to his full rally review). Peter is also producing a feature article for Saga magazine on Mum, I am told it is Britain's biggest circulation magazine, so looking forward to seeing that!  The place was just lovely and we were in Bagan for three days, did a fantastic hot air balloon trip over the city which has huge Temples and thousands of smaller Stupas everywhere - just outstanding. 

The balloon trip was marvellous, amazing views and great fun


9th Feb: End of the road for the rally and we flew from Yangong to Bangkok and then on to Sydney to stay with my daughter Elizabeth and her family.

The Road to Mandalay rally was one of the best. I'l take memories of Burma and the Burmese the roads, scenery and weather with me as we go. So nice to be with these people, they couldn't be nicer, such as shame to leave but we need to move on.

The good news is that it inspired me to take a whole heap of photos, some appear on this page and the previous blog and you can see a lot more on my facbeook and twitter channels.

A long rally but yet again Mum was fantastic, always alert and interested, never sleeping in the car, doing a superb job of navigation with the road book and generally people watching observing all and everything passing by and enjoying herself!

We were taken by surprise by the fact there was some competition so had not taken any equipment for this but still tried to do it - though not very hard. We got some nice trophies for coming third in class. We stayed two days in Sydney then went off to New Zealand for three weeks. We'll be popping back to Oz for a while then back to UK on the 12th March.

Marrakech Express rally 29th March to 9th April

Need to get back by 29th March and ready as we are off to the Marrakech Express rally which takes place 29th March to 9th April. This is 15 2CV Citroen's starting in Spain then rushing about Morocco then back again. The route includes Meknes, Midelt, Merzouga, the Todra Gorge and the Atlas Mountains. Should be a great hoot as my friend Hayden Burvill, Porsche fanatic, owner of WEVO Porsche specialist parts company is coming from California to co-drive. He knows me well as we did the London to Capetown rally together. Watch this space for updates on the Marakesh rally!

Can't get away from the Space Station elephant logo - as expected in Mandalay elephants are everywhere!

 

Peter Hall's Road to Mandalay Coverage in the Daily Telegraph:

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars: the road to Mandalay

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars in the Road to Mandalay rally: week 1

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars in the Road to Mandalay rally: week 2

Peter Hall, Daily Telegraph, Classic cars in the Road to Mandalay rally: week 3

 

Social media links updated

You can now post on facebook or twitter by clicking on the social media icons on the left of the page and follow me on facebook, twitter and youtube by clicking on the social media icons at the top right of the page (these are all at the base of the page on a tablets & mobile phones). If you want to share on other social media channels just click the '+' icon on the left and select another social media channel

 


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