The Sahara Challenge Rally 2015 was staged October 5-15 in Spain and Morocco, starting in Madrid and ending in Marrakesh. Around 40 entrants journeyed from Madrid and through the hills of Andalucia before crossing to Tangier, passing through the epic mountains and canyons such as the Todra Gorge and the Erg Chebbi dunes and onto Marrakesh.
It was a fight to the finish as the Endurance Rally Association’s Sahara Challenge reached its end in the Jaama el-Fnaa Square of Marrakesh after a ten-day rally. The Classics category saw a hard fought battle with less than 20 seconds separating the top three finishers. It was Italy’s Gianmaria Aghem and Rossella Conti in the 1971 Lancia Fulvia Coupe who took first place with a time of 0:36:21.
They were closely followed into second place by Mike Velasco and Peter St George in the 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280S with the clock reading 0:36:25, with Ludovic Bois and Julia Colman on 0:36:39 in the 1969 Volvo Amazon in third.
In the Vintageant category, it was seasoned rally entrant Bill Cleyndert and his navigator Jacqui Norman who were victorious in the ‘indestructible’ 1928 Ford Model A Speedster. Bill has been behind the wheel of the Model A in various events including the Peking to Paris 2013 and all of this year’s ERA events, however the Sahara Challenge was the first rally to see him lift the winner’s trophy.
Second place went to Jean Steinhauser and Anne Steinhauser-Collard in the 1937 Bentley Derby Open Tourer, while the 1927 vintage Bentley 4.5-Litre Le Mans of Keith and Nora Ashworth took third.
Rally Director Fred Gallagher said, “Coming at the end of the busiest year the ERA has ever had, this has been one of the toughest Rallies it has ever done but it has been exceedingly well received by all of the competitors. There’s been a wonderful spirit among the crews from the moment the flag dropped in Toledo right until the very end in Marrakesh. We’re delighted to see so many of our old friends with us once again and thrilled that we’ve been able to welcome so many new ones to the world of Vintage and Classic Rallying.”
There were also class wins for Charles and Sophie Stuart-Menteth in the 1925 Vauxhall 30/98 (1920 to 1931 type cars), Joe Robillard and Matt Peckham in the Chevrolet Coupe (1932 to 1941 type cars) in the Vintageant category.
In the classes for classic cars up to 2 Litre (1942 to 1975), the win went to Nigel Farmer and Stephen Lovell in the Ford Escort Mexico Mark 1, while the over 2 Litre (1942 to 1975) win was secured by Edmund Peel and Sara MacDonald in the Porsche 911.
Special awards were given to Charles and Sophie Stuart-Menteth who received the Spirit of the Rally trophy while David and Jo Roberts in the Triumph TR250 were bestowed the Against All Odds award. The ‘Sweep’ mechanics also gave an award for the car needing the least mechanical assistance – Malcolm Lister and Barry Nash in the Rover P5B.
Sports Car Digest documented the Sahara Challenge Rally 2015, with photographer Gerard Brown offering sensational selection of images highlighting the boundless expanse of the Sahara and rural Morocco.
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