The Sahara Challenge 2015

Madrid to Marrakesh - October 5-14, 2015

Day 2 - Cordoba to Algeciras and Tangier

The rain in Spain falls mainly on....

Eat your words Eliza Doolittle. We had rain on the plain and in the mountains …..and lots of it.

Never mind being up with the larks, this morning it was a case of keeping some very soggy owls company. To make sure the Rally reached the ferry to Morocco in good time here was an early start at a time when the torrential overnight rain had become a mere intermittent but very annoying drizzle.

The roads may have been damp but spirits were still high helped no doubt by an excellent Parador breakfast.

There was 122km of fast road to get us to the first Regularity on the Puerto del Zamorano, which was a sinuous, mainly tarmac, hill climb that included the briefest excursion onto the gravel which caused a herd of wild boar to scatter as we approached. They weren’t expecting to see us and the sentiment was mutual.

None of the crews bar one managed to keep a clean sheet through this slippery little section however, indeed our overnight leaders Jean and Anne Steinhauser in their Bentley Derby and Owen Turner and Rachel Vestey in the Mini lost three and one seconds respectively. It was the Mercedes of Mike Velasco and Peter St George however who showed them all how it was done.

Coffee, regular or decaffeinated if you preferred was taken in the Hostal El Cortijo amidst dozens of hanging hams, slowly maturing and marking time by dripping their excess fat into their conical collecting cups below.

Then, the second regularity and here the route designer, Anthony Preston, did us proud having found the Puerto de las Paloma in the Sierra Margarita. Rising to beyond 1,200m from the village of Zahara de La Sierra the views from this rocky and precipitous road would have been stunning if it wasn’t for the cloud / mist / rain / fog which covered the whole mountain for most of the morning.

Eagles soared high above us but given the weather situation we wouldn’t have been surprised of a penguin had waddled across the road.

This was a tough climb indeed and by the top of it only Owen Turner and Rachel Vestey along with Mike Velasco and Peter St George managed to stay penalty free.

From the top of the Regularity section there only remained the San Roque Time Control before we turned our attention to the other important business of the day, the ferry crossing. And, as we plunged through thick cork forests towards the coast the weather began to clear and some blue sky made a welcome appearance.

Everyone who should have made the 3.00pm sailing did so except for the Rolls Royce of Michael Strasser and Arno Schenk who had lost their engine fan at the start of the day and had to divert to find a new one. It’s almost certain that they’ll rejoin us tonight and take the start tomorrow.

The crossing to the new port of Tanger Med was a mere two hours and in no time at all we found ourselves on the African continent and heading west towards Tangier and the Movenpick Hotel complete with a sumptuous poolside buffet.

Tonight then we have a slightly different leaderboard. The Turner / Vestey Mini still leads the classic category but Mike Velasco and Peter St George are in second place with David and Jo Roberts sitting pretty in third in their TriumphTR250. In the Vintageant category Jean and Anne Steinhauser hold the high ground with Bill Cleyndert and Jacqui Norman in second place. Jo Robillard and Matt Peckham are looking good in third place in their yellow Chevy.

Tomorrow we’re off to Fes.

Syd Stelvio



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