Morocco: On The Trail Of The Rally — Part 2 Nador To Merzouga

Our route took us from Nador south to Missour and Er-Rachidia by highway before we started the first stretch of dirt track following the roadbook of a rally special stage that led us to Merzouga. We reached the start of the special well after nightfall and a few kilometers of night driving on the track was enough to convince us to quickly find a good spot to bivouac for the night.


The next morning we started our first day of rally practice: 125km of dirt track finishing in the dunes of Erg Chebbi near Merzouga. The track was fast with some tricky navigation before the dunes. We were driving fast, although not quite rally speed, and one of the Hummers had a problem with the rack steering, one of the tie rod joints had given way and they needed to slow down.

We stopped several times and by late morning we discovered that one of our 8 litre bottles of water had been punctured and everything behind the driver’s seat was wet, including the compressor and the rally roadbooks for later stages. Fortunately, the warm sunshine and light breeze helped dry everything quickly.






Later in the day, we had lunch under the palm trees of a small but lush oasis.



By lunchtime we had completed just over half of the stage and were still 60 km from Erg Chebbi following the roadbook. As we got back underway, the group spread out as the Hummers were driving more slowly. We were following the lead car. When we reached a tricky part of the roadbook, where the navigation was according to a heading, we lost sight of the car behind us and weren’t sure if they had had a problem or if we had simply taken the wrong route. We stopped for a long while to wait, and finally decided we had taken the wrong route and made an attempt to get back on track. In fact, we hadn’t gotten off-track. We didn’t didn’t find out until later that sometime after lunch, the pneumatic suspension of the damaged Hummer had given out. They had to drive very slowly to Merzouga to make repairs and wouldn’t be able to continue the rest of the trip off road.

On our side, we were pleasantly surprised by how well the Jeep handled the terrain. The King shock absorbers with remote reservoir (specifically tuned for the weight of the car by Off Road Evolution) and Currie Dana 60 axles took a beating, but came through just fine. The car handled extremely well on the track and the Toyo Open Country M/T tires were well-suited to the sharp rocky soil. This would be true for the rest of the trip.

We drove into Erg Chebbi just before sunset.


One of the Toyotas got stuck in the sand and we had to turn around to pull them out. The other part of the group had decided to avoid the dunes and left the route indicated by the roadbook. They phoned us to set up a rendez-vous at the Hotel Touareg, where we had camped for several days during the Tuareg Rallye last March. We stayed at the hotel overnight and planned an easy morning the next day with some fun driving in the dunes.

Read the next installment or go back to Part 1 and the post index.