CLASSIC RALLY ASSOCIATION
The 10th Classic Marathon
5th - 14th Septembre 1998
Daily Route Schedule
The first-day out of Versailles is a long drive - it's over 2,000km to the port of Algeciras in southern Spain, but Keith Bauths design takes as much of a "straight line" route as is possible while ensuring some very interesting driving and minimal autoroute mileage. In fact, the distance is only 10% longer than if we were to drive by autoroute all the way to Malaga. There will be a split start, to allow those with cars in the Vintageant Category to leave several hours clear start ahead of the main event. The long driving days at the start of the Marathon are unavoidable if we are to complete the full distance within the ten days 0f the event.
- Days 1-2
- Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th September: Versailles to Andorra
The start is from the Palace of Versailles on Saturday, with the Vintageants leading the field away. Cars head off on fast open roads to a Time control just north of Clermont-Ferrand. From here, the rally heads south through the Massif Central and over the Black Mountains to breakfast at the medieval walled town of Carcassonne. After breakfast, a short but scenic morning's run through the foothills of the Pyrénnées to the final climb into the mountain Principality of Andorra, where crews amve in the early afternoon for a welcome overnight halt after their 1,100km drive.
- Day 3
- Monday 7th September: Andorra to Ubeda
A good day awaits, despite the need to cover another 900km. We wiII allow you to leave in your own tirne, for the joumey down from the mountains across the southern edge of Europe's only desert to the first time control of the day near Alcaniz. An interesting mountain section follows, before lunch in the Teruel area. On to another mountain regularity section, taking us to Aibacete by late afternoon and driving into Ubeda.
- Day 4
- Tuesday 8th September: Ubeda to Algeciras & Tangiers
Again, you wiII be able to start at your own chosen time for the run south through the mountains of Andalucia, admiring the Ronda valley - a narrow I ,000ft-deep cleft through the middle of this town, down which they used to chuck convicted criminals. Arriving at Algeciras, there remains only the short afternoon cruise across the Med before entering.. Into Africa.
- Day 5
- Wednesday 9th September: Tangiers to Ifrane
On the first full day in Morocco, the cars leave the ancient city of Tangiers and head south into the Rif Mountains (traditionally a poor area, where our expression "riff-raff" is said to come from). This is the first of the three parallel ranges of mountains which cross Morocco, roughly west to east. South of the Rif are the Middle Atlas and then the High Atlas, the snow capped rock barrier which protects the fertile northern part of Morocco from the encroaching desolation of the Sahara Desert ... you see plenty of Sahara later. After two tight sections in the Rif Mountains, cars descend into the hot central plain, passing many fascinating medieval buildings on the outskirts of Fes, the imperial capital, before ascending the Middle Atlas to reach Ifrane, the first night halt and the principal Moroccan ski resort. Ifrane is unlike any other part of Morocco and indeed has a number of houses that look just like Austria. Spooky!
- Day 6
Thursday 1Oth September: Ifrane to Erfoud
Competitors head due south, crossing the eastem edge of the High Atlas, through the spectacular Gorges du Ziz. But there's no time for a "zizz" here as the vast expanse of the Sahara opens Up abead. The route follows a narrow belt of vegetation around the Ziz river (the watercourse eventually dries up in the desert sands), to reach the town of Erfoud, on the edge of the wilderness, and our final rest-halt of the day. Arriving' at Erfoud, competitors must drive on for a Paris-Dakar style circuit, forsaking the tarred road for stony tracks leading out into the desert... and a truly memorable experience. From a Time control at the Erg Chebbi, the first of the ranges of famous Sahara sand dunes, a tight section then heads back across the desert, on smoother stuff, which will return the cars to the safety and comfort of the overnight hotel.
- Day 7
- Friday 11th September: Erfoud to Ouzarzate
The rally turns westwards, skirting the northern fringes of the Sahara. For mile after mile, there are no villages ... there is no vegetation .. nothing but a barren rock desert like a lunar landscape. Competitors will be pressing on in fine style along good tarred road - which didn't exist when the Classic Marathon last visited Morocco in 1993 - but it's easy to see why a caravan of hardy camels can average no more than 20km a day across this inhospitable terrain. To sample a little of the way things used to be, the aftemoon will see cars tackling a challenging 50km section of unsurfaced track. It's not especially rough and a sensibly-driven car could survive without a sump guard (providing it's not a Mini), but atter two hours of intense concentration avoiding the potholes and negotiating the dry river crossings, crews will really appreciate the luxury of the smooth tarred road used for the next regularity section. The sharp crests and steep dips on the unsurfaced section make it unsuitable for cars with a really long wheelbase, so the Vintageants will drive straight to the day's finish at the lively tourist centre of Ouarzazate.
- Day 8
- Saturday 12th September: Ouzarzate to Marrakesh
An early start takes competitors along a twisty, precipitous main road through the incredible 100km Tizi-n-Tichka Gorge, to reach Marrakesh soon after midday. the rest of the day is free, and if no work is required on the cars, then crews will want to visit the famous Medina and buy souvenirs in the souks, that indescribable labyrinth of narrow alleyways which surrounds the large central square where snake charmers and conjurers entertain the crowds.
- Day 9
- Sunday 13th September: Marrakesh to Ifrane
Sunday is the hardest day in Morocco, with a 500km drive along the length of the pleasantly green and fertile Middle Atlas mountains, ending in a tortuously tight section through a pine forest shortly before the finish back at the ski resort of Ifrane.
- Day 10
- Monday 14th September: Ifrane to Tangiers
The final morning of the rally sees a neutralised non-competitive run on through-routes back up to Tangiers, where competitors should have some hours free in the afternoon for sightseeing or rest before dressing up in their best smart-casual tropical gear (the sola topi or pith helmet may be worn) for the Buffet Supper & Gala Prizegiving. Celebrations begin at 6pm ...
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