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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On the Road Again at Gleneagles

Alastair Caldwell - Monday, April 22, 2013

The 5th Flying Scotsman 2013 rally took place this weekend and along with Catriona Rings in my gorgeous 1938 Alfa 6C we had a great time over 3 fun packed days.

Friday 19th

The rally started on Friday 19th in Hertfordshire heading off into new rally territory, a change from 2012, through Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. We drove past Castle Ashby which was built to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth and stopped off for lunch in the village of Market Bosworth. That afternoon we were back on familiar territory driving around the battlefield of Bosworth Field. Then off north through the Peak District skirting past Buxton ending up for a well earned 'watering' rest near Macclesfield. We ended the first day in a respectable 9th position out of a field of 106 cars.

1938 Alfa 6C on Rally DutySaturday 20th

Off to an early start in the 'fresh' morning air with the sun beating down and continuing north, passing through Glossop before a wonderful jaunt. I'm sure the locals loved over 100 classic cars flying along these country lanes! We then went through the lovely towns on the Lancashire / Yorkshire border and onto the beautiful scenery of Widdop Moor and The Forest of Trawden.

The stunning Yorkshire Dales saw our route for the afternoon through the Ribblehead Viaduct then heading north into Cumbria. A quick break and then we were at it again off to the Lake District National Park and onwards to the Scottish Borders and a well earned overnight rest in Gretna Green.

A great run today as we finished equal 3rd with my good friends David Thomson and Gareth Holding in their Talbot 105 Alpine. I knew there would be some 'friendly' competitive driving on the Sunday as we both had our eyes on making that third spot our own!

Sunday 21st

The final day saw us driving away from Gretna with a long day ahead to reach the finish line at the Gleneagles Hotel. Off to Dumfries and Galloway and the East Stewartry Coast then an early lunch at Drumlanrig Castle, an imposing building standing in 90,000 acres of stunning Scottish countryside, home to the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.

After lunch we headed north again over the Lowther Hills to the final test sections of the event. The first test section was at the Kames Motorsport Complex and the second at Forrestburn Hillclimb circuit.

The run in to Gleneagles and the finish line took us past Bannockburn the site of Robert Bruce's famous battle. We arrived at Gleneagles Hotel which is set amongst the wonderful scenery around the Scottish town of Auchterader - if you haven't been you should take the time to visit as it's a glorious venue.

And the result?

We finished FIRST in our C4 class!

Try as we could we didn't manage to grab that third place from David and Gareth but finished 4th overall.

So another good result for the Alfa. And as always on to the next event.

 

You can read more about the rally on the organisers website


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