Alastair Caldwell triumphs on first Marrakech Express Rally

A small field makes a big impact in their 2CVs

Alastair Caldwell, team manager at McLaren during the James Hunt era, won the inaugural Marrakech Express Rally in April 2014, with co-driver Hayden Burvill in Dally, one of the 16 2CVs owned and used for rallies by 2CV Adventures.

All cars were selected at random, to ensure that the event reflected the skill of the driver and co-driver.

Driving a course of just over 3,000kms, the 12-day rally included the High Atlas mountains, the Middle Atlas, the desert in the south, stunning gorges, roads never travelled, camels, Marrakech, film sets and exotic locations.

The rally started from Malaga in Spain, before crossing to Tangier and a night stop in Meknes. From here, it took minor roads to Beni Mellal, then Marrakech, where the crews had a welcome day off.

With plenty of kilometres under their belt, the participants were by now used to the quirky gearbox, the leaning body and the limited power on offer. However, Caldwell and Burvill were already showing their class, albeit with Nicholas Pryor and Lesley Stockwell in hot pursuit.

Others in contention at this stage included Tim and Pat Scott, Michael and Sean McInerney and Reg and Michelle Toohey, who had travelled from Australia to take part.

"The great thing about this rally", said Reg, "is that I don't have to ship a car, or look after it. That's all done for me."

From Marrakech, the field headed for Ouarzazate, the city of filming, where a string of blockbusters have been made. Next, the cars were truly in the desert, after a long day's drive across the arid plains to Merzouga. After some fun in the sand, the cars had a short stop to Kasbah Tombouctou.

Turning north, the rally headed for a series of spectacular gorges, starting with the famous Todra Gorge, a slit in the rock outcrop, barely wide enough for cars to pass through.

A stop-over in Midelt was the reward that night, before a spectacular drive to Fes the next day. By this time, the crew of Dally were well in the lead and - apart from a catastrophe - were uncatchable, particularly as the Pryor and Stockwell car had fallen back after a wrong slot on a stage.

A run to Chefchaouen over the Rif mountains confirmed the final result, before the rally headed to Tangier and Malaga the next morning.

While everyone agreed that the scenery was spectacular and the route exceptional, the real stars of the show were the 602cc Citroen 2CVs, which performed spectacularly throughout the event.