This edition of the Morocco Desert Challenge is sure one which I will remember for some years. Not because this was the best experience i’ve ever had, but because of all the challenges we got.
But first of all we have to get to Agadir where the technical checks were held. For us as media this is the perfect networking place because all competitors are in one spot, and most of the time quite relaxed.
It started all well
So Monday morning the 8th at 06:00 AM I arrive at the Rallymaniacs HQ in Tiel where Marcel is packing the Rallymaniacs Land Cruiser 105. After a quick check we leave for Algeciras where we will take the ferry to Tanger. All went well the first day of traveling and we cover over 1600 kilometer near Valladolid. This night we sleep in the car to get the most out of all available hours and the next morning we continue our journey.
After a few hours we stop to get some breakfast at a local restaurant. And always find one where they look strange at you. Because then you know that this is a local shop, not meant for tourists, and when it’s busy then you know it’s good. So after a nice rough piece of bread with Spanish ham and a glass of orange juice we hit the road to get to Algeciras. We still had to cover 800 kilometers but perfectly on time we arrived in the port. One little hick-up and that was that Marcel took the wrong turn. So I drove backwards and went to the parking lot but behind me I missed Marcel… Marcel was still that the wrong spot and went out of the car. When I came closer I noticed the worried face and there had to be something wrong. As it turned out, when attempting to drive over a road separation, the steering ball was broken inexplicably.
Car out of control
We pushed the car backwards onto a industrial parking to get a closer look. Nothing to repair it ourselfs so we took the part and searched for the biggest Toyota dealer nearby. Arrived here it turned out to be less easy than expected because this dealer had more to do with paperwork than actually repairing car parts. After talking to more than ten other shops no one could help us. Our next option was the find a local metal worker so we started to look around at a small industrial site, and we found one. Not that they had welded it together quick. But after some hand language and some fiddling, we had a seemingly reasonable repair. Quick back to the port, installed the part, bought our ferry tickets and rolled into the waiting line. Not knowing how strong the repair was, but we could move and were in line to get to Tanger.
You could expect it… When maneuvering on the ferry the steering ball snapped again. But this time when all other vehicles tried to board the ferry. In a rush I parked my car on the assigned deck and ran back to Marcel. The Rallymaniacs Land Cruiser was standing in the middle of the truck deck so we had to push it back as far to the side as possible. Luckily the crew allowed us to spend the entire trip in the hold of the ship to repair the car. Not an easy fix because we didn’t have the proper parts so we had to do it with some straps and hose clamps. After four hours and numerous attempts to fix it, we reached the port of Tangier and had to leave the boat. I went back to my car and when I came to the place where the Rallymaniacs Land Cruiser was, it was already gone, good news.
After a few minutes my phone got signal again and i received a text message from Marcel that he was driving out of the port slowly. Just before the customs I met him and we drove out of the harbor together. After a few kilometers we stopped to check the repair. This had come loose a little but after a quick improvement we drove slowly with only 50 km/hour to Larache. In this town we went looking for a local shop which could provide us a port or repair it again, but that didn’t help. Wasted four hours we leave Larache and started again on our self-made repair. This time a little better then on the ferry. In the meanwhile we contacted several bigger shops around Rabat and Casablanca and they went looking for a solution. We did not want to waist any more time so we hit the road again with only 50 km/hour to at least do something. But after a few hours it became clear that no parts were available in Rabat or Casablanca either. Time for plan-c, and that was that i would drive to Agadir, get the part and drive back up north to meet Marcel again and fix the car.
On that moment I still had to cover 800 kilometers until Agadir so I contacted some Dutch friends who were already there. They sent a local guy to meet me just 200 kilometers before Agadir to save some time. We both arrived at the agreed place within a minute of each other and within no time I was on my way back. Meanwhile, Marcel had managed to get the car on the trailer of Bowler Motorsport and was on his way to Marrakesh with the truck. Around Marrakesh we found a fuel station where they would drop off marcel and the car, and where I could meet him to fix the car. Again, I arrived just a minute after they arrived, we fixed the car (this time in a proper way) and we drove the last few hundred kilometers to Agadir.
It’s over for the Rallymaniacs Land Cruiser
The next morning we went by the guys of 4×4 Centrum Ermelo to get the car checked because we found an oil leak in the past few days. After that it got only worse because the distribution belt was wet, a seal was broken and even a bearing was broken. And that bearing caused the biggest problem because there was an uncountable amount of bearing balls laying around in the gear housing. This fix could easily take up to a full day of work, with the right tools. But with the fact that we are in the middle of a local square, we had to make the decision to put that car on a trailer.
So after all difficulties we couldn’t even use our own car. But in the rally you are never alone so we arranged a rental car together with an Italian photographer. And this is how we started the rally.