The Endurance Rally Association’s 10-day Sahara Challenge event from Madrid to Marrakesh was decided by less than 20 seconds as the rally reached its end in the latter city’s Jaama el-Fnaa Square. Some 40 entrants left Madrid and journeyed through the hills of Andalucía before crossing to Tangier, passing through epic mountains and canyons such as the Todra Gorge and the Erg Chebbi dunes before heading on to Marrakesh.
A hard-fought battle in the Classics category ended with less than 20 seconds separating the top three finishers, as Italy’s Gianmaria Aghem and Rossella Conti (1971 Lancia Fulvia Coupe) took 1st place with a time of 0:36:21, closely followed by Mike Velasco and Peter St. George (1971 Mercedes 280S) at 0:36:25 and 3rd–placed Ludovic Bois and Julia Colman (1969 Volvo Amazon) clocking in at 0:36:39.
It was less strenuous in the Vintageant category, where veteran entrant Bill Cleyndert and navigator Jacqui Norman took victory with their “indestructible” 1928 Ford Model A, giving Cleyndert his first experience of lifting the winner’s trophy. Second place went to Jean Steinhauser and Anne Steinhauser-Collard in a 1937 Bentley Derby Open Tourer, while Keith and Nora Ashworth took 3rd with their 1927 Bentley 4.5L Le Mans.
Rally Director Fred Gallagher said: “Coming at the end of the busiest year the ERA has ever had, this has been one of the toughest Rallies it has ever done, but it has been exceedingly well received by all of the competitors. Anyone using this as a shakedown for next year’s Peking to Paris will have taken away some valuable lessons regarding car prep, navigation and the Rally way of life.”