Sorry about the delay! I'm rather bogged down in the world of academia at the moment!
For anyone that doesn't know me, or know of me, I'm now a 20-year-old student brought up surrounded by Jowetts, and my dad rallying them. He always threatened to take me as a navigator one day, but I suspected that that was an empty promise. However, having been to an info meeting about the 'Dash to Marrakech' my name was entered in the co-driver's space. As someone whose experience is limited to a tour of Scotland, and the rebuilding of Minis, I knew that this could hold some surprises. I didn't give it much thought until July this year, when the Rally office started sending things to me. Uh-oh.
Now, whereas dad has a plethora of experience in these things, I had exactly none. I was suddenly faced with a route to plot. OK, not so difficult, is it? A pencil, a couple of maps and the route book. Except there was one thing missing - instructions. What the hell was I meant to do with all this? Dad was away all week, so I improvised. And procrastinated.
I thought when the route was plotted that the rest of it would be easy. Amazing how naive I can be sometimes!
The rally started innocuously enough. Versailles to Aurillac. OK. That was, until the Halda broke, and we had a major breakdown on my first ever regularity. Some French practice soon procured the parts necessary and I left the boys playing on the car whilst I found the hotel and got some sleep. Welcome to rallying! By now I was beginning to realise quite how steep a learning curve I had taken...
The trip through Europe was comparatively uneventful. They were long, hard days of driving, but the navigation was fairly simple. The roads were all marked on the maps, for a start, which tends to be helpful.
Morocco was a different experience. The first day there involved four very tight regularities back to back. Great excuse to yell at the driver...and the Halda was by now was working. Always useful, I find.
By the time we reached the desert section in Erfoud, dad was quite ill (he's getting old, I think!). However, the regularity that was to have taken place in the Sahara that afternoon was called off due to the sandstorm that was taking place. This is where I discovered the purpose of the Berber head-dresses that are native to the area.
The desert regularity was designed as the highlight of the rally, and indeed it was. The surface was rock, not sand desert, but it was an incredibly hard to follow route. Dad blames the six minutes that we dropped on my navigation. I blame it on his driving (he was going too slow, you see!) And anyway, there aren't many maps for the desert...
From a navigational viewpoint, the worst part of the rally was the 44km of un-surfaced road that we took. Apparently, this is all that used to pass for roads in Morocco until the last decade or two. I'm glad that they have since discovered tarmac...There were no instructions in the route book for this stretch, merely a time limit for completion. Great! A nice straight road was expected. No. What we had to drive down was a rough track with small rocks covering the far from flat surface - yumps were a frequent occurrence. Apart from being uncomfortable in the extreme, there were roads going off the main track every so often. How did we know which to take? We didn't. There was no car in sight either in front or behind. The only navigational tool I had was the sun (the compass permanently showed North as the car's body affected it). There were also some electricity pylons. As we were headed to a city, (and I did not particularly want to be stuck 30km from the nearest spot of civilisation), I followed the pylons - a city needs electricity, right? Luckily, it paid off, though there were many times when both dad and I doubted that we would ever escape this barren track.
The highlight of the rally? Camels! - more reliable in the desert than many of the cars that fell foul of the unkind surface. All in all, it was a fantastic experience, which I hope one day to repeat in a Mini (sorry, that was JOWETT) of my own, and without a father as a driver. The parental relationship tends to suffer rather, especially when you are constantly telling your dad where to go!
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