Tuareg Rally, Day 8: The Finish

When Stéphane called at 7:30 on Saturday morning, we were just 10 minutes away from the ferry station. They’d already debarked and were waiting for us in a parking area near the entrance so that Edouard could check over the Protruck before they headed out for the 110 km run to the Finish in Mojácar.

It didn’t take long. Everything was in order, and after an inspection of the hubs, everyone was ready to grab a coffee and breakfast before getting underway.

Across from the ferry station was a small unremarkable bar where a number of regulars had already arrived for coffee or whisky (at 8:00 am!). When we first got there, there weren’t too many people, but by the time we left, the place was packed with participants from the rally. Breakfast for two cost 5€ including coffee and toast with ham, tomatoes or tortilla (potato pancakes) and some of the best orange juice we’d ever tasted. Driving back to Switzerland the next day, we’d think of that orange juice as we drove alongside kilometers of orange groves and palm trees around Valencia in Spain. That orange juice tasted like a glass of sweet sunshine: no sugar needed!

Back at the ferry, some of the competitors were already taking to the road. There was no specific start time for leaving Alméria; the competitors had several hours to arrive at the start of the single Special of the day, through a gravel wash that lead from the mountains down to the beach just south of Mojácar. There they gathered for the parade to the Finish.

We set off early with the idea that we’d try to stop at the start of the last Special to get some photos, but when we saw the track from the road through the mountains on the way and realized how far from the Finish it was, we decided to press on, find a good place to park the truck and check into the hotel before the competitors arrived. We weren’t the only ones. Check-in took almost an hour at the hotel, because many of the teams had sent someone ahead with stacks of passports to collect the room keys for all the team members in advance.

We ate lunch on the sunny terrace of a pizzeria not far from the hotel and then headed back to wait for the parade. This time the wait wasn’t long.

Kris had the best seat in the house.

We watched from across the street as all the competitors passed, a few cars being towed by fellow participants.

There was a joyous celebration at the Finish line.

The Orga was efficient and had done their job to make sure the results were ready and the winners could be announced right away.

No one on the Swiss team received a prize, but the objectives had been achieved. Stéphane and Caro had been able to asses the performance of the Protruck in real race conditions, including the soft dues of the Sahara in addition to the dirt tracks where the truck excels in speed. WIth this experience, they’ll be able to make the right modifications to tune its performance to the terrain they expect to encounter in future events.

Florian and Yvan had successfully achieved their objectives. It was their first rally, and their first experience driving in the desert. Not only had they finished, but they’d had very few problems with the Jeep Cherokee they’d prepared themselves in the evenings after work. A very respectable performance, indeed.

This was our first time at the Tuareg Rally, too. Overall, we were impressed by the efficiency of the organization, although there were a few problems that might have been avoided: It was regrettable that the service teams had to take a different ferry than the competitors. We feel sure this wasn’t the organizer’s first choice, but it did have a non-negligible impact on the team. Also, in our opinion the facilities in Missor were not adequate to handle the number of people participating in the rally. Although the hotel did it’s best to accommodate everyone, the level of cleanliness and hygiene was definitely affected. Most of the other problems we noted were minor in comparison, and despite these few misgivings, we came away with a very positive image of this rally. Attention to safety was high, there were few injuries, and those accidents that did occur received rapid attention and assistance, which is after all the most important job of the Orga. They deserve a great deal of congratulations for everything that went off without a hitch, no small achievement for a rally of this size and complexity.

We’d definitely recommend this race to anyone looking for a challenging, affordable rally experience. The Tuareg Rally remains dedicated to amateurs, but the difficulty and the level of preparation is high, making it a serious alternative to some of the other races. Without the need to meet FIA regulations, or the attention of the big constructor-sponsored teams, the rally offers the serious amateur or aspiring professional a chance to participate on the same level as the more experienced teams.

We noticed a large number of competitors who were participating for their second, third or fourth time. We hope we’ll be able to join them again next year.

The Winning car.

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