The Maroc Challenge will face its fifteenth edition from November 30th to December 7th, drastically changing it’s route is going to provide higher levels of excitement, more incentives and fantastic scenery for the participants. Rui Cabaço, organizer of the event, offers his impressions of this exciting event.
How does it feel for you to be organizing this fifteenth edition? Could you imagine it when you designed the first one?
When I had the idea of creating the Maroc Challenge I was excited and had great hopes that it was a project with a future, but I could not even imagine that we would still be going strong for this 15th edition and also continuing to grow, becoming an increasingly recognized international event . . I feel very fortunate to be able to organize the Maroc. It is extraordinary to be able to join my passion with that of the participants, that return edition after edition. The Maroc has come a long way since the first editions, both the routes and the professionalism in the organization are continually evolving. We have become an increasingly professional structure for adventurers and amateur drivers with a very low participation cost.
Last Spring had a looping route. Next Winter, it will return to the itinerant format, Why?
In 15 editions we have never had 2 routes the same. Yes, there have been some stages in common, but all have been different. We first used the loop format in Spring 2018 and I did it to try something new. There are many participants who loved this format, mainly for convenience and because the vehicles cover the stages without having to carry around as much weight as in the itinerant stages. The Winter is once again itinerant, following the original Maroc format. From my point of view, this route is more adventurous and provides a greater variety of landscapes. Which is the best format? None in particular. Every type of route has its good and bad aspects, more important is the challenge that each team sets itself, this sense of challenge which we try to instill in all participants.
The Spring edition began in Erfoud and the Winter will start from Midelt. Why this change of format with respect to the tradition of starting the event as soon as it hits Moroccan territory? Are the verifications in Spain, on the ship or at the starting line?
The idea is to start further and further to the south of Morocco, with the sole objective of being able to offer longer off-road stages with more desert areas and landscapes , more dunes, more sand and, consequently, more adventure. The Winter edition checks and verifications are carried out in Spain, in Motril port, before boarding for Morocco.
Sand and dunes have been major players in recent editions. Will the upcoming Winter edition also continue along these lines?
Yes, increasingly so, mainly in the Raid category, the most experienced participants in the Maroc. There are some teams in this category that have participated in 9 editions and are already “legends” in the Maroc. For the last two editions we started to introduce areas of dunes and for the Winter there will be even more than in previous events… The next edition promises much more adventure.
When designing the route is it easy to make it viable for the Adventure and Raid categories but also for the 4×2 and 4×4 vehicles?
Each edition we provide routes more suited to the different categories and, although it’s not easy, we try to make it viable. For traction reasons, the 4×2 category, which for me is still one of the most challenging, goes through many different areas … I think sometimes if the participants had an inkling of the terrain they will be facing, they would think twice. But the important thing is that everyone makes it to the finish line, be it with more or less problems. For the 4x4s we are always on the lookout for better off-road options, better suited to these vehicles. The aim is that participants of each different category may put their vehicles to the test across the Moroccan terrain.
The next edition ends for the first time in Saïdia, along the Mediterranean shores. Why this change?
I like to finish by the sea. For the first edition of the Maroc we ended up on Sidi-Kaouki beach near Essaouira (on the Atlantic coast), and reaching the finishing line was an indescribable feeling, both for me and for the participants. Finishing the event on the Mediterranean shores in Saïdia intends to evoke the Sidi-Kaouki experience while at the same time ending up close to the departure point for Spain.