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London to Cape Town Rally 2012

At 7pm on New Year’s Day 44 cars set off from the Houses of Parliament on an epic journey to Cape Town.

Tour de Force were  part of the support team for this event, it is what is known as a ‘press on’ rally, so no matter what happens, you have to keep moving ever South.

The day started early at Brooklands Motor Museum with signing on and Scrutineering.

Time cards laid out ready to be collected at Signing On

It’s quite a feat of organisation to process over 50 vehicles and 100 people in one go, but The Endurance Rally Association does it very well. Below are a few pictures of some of the cars.

This Vauxhall was built in 1924!
Most of the cars are from the 1960′s – 1980′s

As part of the briefing session TDF did a presentation about ‘managing the competitors expectations’ of travelling in Africa….

The assembled competitors, about to have their ‘expectations managed’.

Here’s a video of the cars during scrutineering

Once the rally got to Greece, we were into the routine of rally life:

Making tea at the ferry

This rally had the challenge of taking 5 different ships on our way through Africa, the current political situation makes it very difficult to transit certain regions. This only added to the logistics of the event.

Organisation vehicles on the Ancona to Igomenitsa ferry.

One car very nearly missed the boat…

The initiative of some of the competitors was a wonder to behold, one crashed his beautiful V8 Morgan whilst in Greece. The crew were un-hurt, but the car could not be repaired in time to catch the next ferry to Egypt. However they were determined not to give up, the picture below I took in the lobby of the hotel in Kamina Vorla as he tried to buy the receptionists Suzuki Jimny-which he did!

Buying a car..

He had to work fast as the boat to Egypt left that night…It was a special charter for the rally as no other ferry service was running.

Again it was a close run thing for some cars to make it to the ship on time. We waited as long as we could for car 38- they had crashed out during the day and were frantically trying to get it repaired and to the ferry before it left…

 

Everyone else is on-board.Philp Young, Rally Organiser waits for car 38 to arrive...

Car 38 didn’t make it, but true to form on this rally, instead of giving up, they air-freighted the car to Jeddah and carried on!

One of the key areas in which Tour de Force were crucial was getting all the cars and competitors on and off ferries and across 14 international borders. Egypt was a particularly difficult border, as the system is extremely bureaucratic.


Queuing to be processed in Alexandria

The average time spent at each border for 100 people and 50 cars was 2.5 hours, which is pretty good going!

At least, having driven through a European winter, we started to experience warm, blue sky.

Sunny Egypt

Often situations would arise that need to be dealt with quickly and efficiently, when the rally mechanics vehicle broke down (the irony was not lost on anyone) we still had to get them to the next ferry.

This was also the first international rally to drive through Saudi Arabia, one of the highlights for me was a lunch-stop at which we had the chance to eat some great ‘truckers food’

Lunch in Saudi Arabia

Sudan passed in a blur as we were through the country in 2 days.  The arrival into Suakin felt like travelling back to another age.

Definately one of the highlights was Ethiopia, the scenery was fantastic and the roads wonderful to drive. Everyone was in total agreement that this was a country worth returning to..

The local agent we worked with did a brilliant job of informing all the authorities along the route of our arrival, this resulted in an amazing reception for the cars, as thousands of people lined the route.

By far the worst road on the entire rally was the infamous Moyale to Marsabit road in Northern Kenya. This is a real car-breaker of a road and every single vehicle- including the Organisation vehicle suffered. TDF team member Tony Jones was out all night on the road helping various teams to limp their cars into camp.

It was worth it for the fantastic camp that had been set up for us in Marsabit, we stayed in alot of 5 star hotels on this trip, but most people agreed this was one of the most comfortable nights of the trip.

Sometimes you’ve got to be a tourist…I have crossed the equator on a few continents now, so a photo was in order.

On the equator

At last we managed to have a day off in Nairobi- the only one on the whole rally! It was a much needed chance to catch up on some sleep and sort out the vehicles. After the Moyale-Marsabit road, all the cars needed some TLC, including the entire fleet of Organisation 4×4′s.

Vehicle repairs in Nairobi

It's still in the rally!

Next stop was Tanzania, we took the road less travelled to Dodoma,  this was quite a challenging section for the competitors, the un-paved roads had suffered from quite a bit of rain.


This also meant we stayed in some ‘off the beaten track’ hotels. This was the gourmet spread laid on in Mbeya at 5am..

Breakfast. Yum...

It was in Mbeya, the night the rally arrived that I heard a loud banging coming from the car park. I went to investigate, there were some ‘ Porsche mechanics’ going on..

The border between Tanzania and Zambia was a brilliant example of a chaotic African border, luckily we had some excellent local fixers to help guide the rally through the process. It involved alot of pre-planning and paperwork on our part, but it was well worth it.

Throughout the rally, competitors were having to constantly look after their cars, every evening the night-stop was a hive of activity. Despite them having driven on average 650kms a day, they were happy to spend the next 3 hours ‘fettling’ their vehicles.

Once the rally crossed into Namibia, things quickly became easier as the infrastructure improved a great deal. The weather also got alot warmer, with long driving days in 40+ degrees heat, a welcome respite was Ai-Ais Hot Springs, due to un-foreseen events, there was a shortage of accomodation, this was easily solved by the TDF team being more than happy to sleep out under the stars!

Best 'hotel room' on the rally

The end of the rally came in a blur of heat and dust, everyone was determined to make it to the end, no matter what. The number of people still in the rally defied everyone’s expectations, only one team didn’t make it and they crashed out in Kent! It was quite a site to see Table Mountain on that last day.

 

The end in sight.

Some of the cars were incredibly battered and bruised by the time they arrived and only just made it, Car 38 is a perfect example of this.

After 29 days, 14,400 kilometres, 15 countries and a huge amount of effort from everyone involved, we made it to Cape Town. It was very hard work, but the challenge of smoothing the way for the rally, helping with the borders and running a mobile HQ was something that TDF relished. As Philip Young of the ERA said it once a ‘once in a lifetime event’ and who knows if it will ever be repeated. In his thank you letter Philip wrote:

“your role as Hotels and Border Fixer could not have been more challenging, without the benefit of a warming up from a course-car, daily glitches and hassles and thankless confrontations were inevitable. Thank you for your dedication and patience with the event”

Nice graffiti in the dust...

 

 

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