Alahoum Fodil and Mazouzi Djilali, on Wildcat DKR500, came first to the finish line in just over nine hours, to win the T1 category of the first edition of Sahari Challenge in Algeria. This rally raid event held from 1st to 9th of November is organized by the Algerian Federation of Motor Sport – and supported by the President of the Republic. Four stages and 1200 km of special tests. The capital city, chosen as a logistics base for this motorsport event, hailed, along with pilots and enthusiasts, the great return of all terrain racing to the country where it was born in the ‘70s.
Alwin Oud and journalist Niels Hatzmann finished second, just 10 minutes behind Fodil and Djilali. Mansour / Gasmi in a Toyota Landcruiser finished third, 18 minutes behind.
The most beautiful stages of the Dakar always took place in the Algerian land – says the navigator Hatzmann, engaged in the Dutch league as well as in the African rallies – The first tests of the Sahari Challenge towards the south were really incredible: canyons and dunes allowed us to reach speeds up to 155 km per hour. In the second special of the third day, from Timimoun to El-Abiodh Sidi Cheikh, we had a problem with a tire, quickly replaced it, but lost valuable time for the ranking. Apart from that, our 4×4 has behaved admirably, demonstrating performance with the help of a 320 HP Jaguar engine and sturdy Land Rover axles. A great experience absolutely to be repeated despite the organizational problems linked to all first editions of a new rally.
In T2, the victory was awarded to another home team, Megueni/Ben Bekhti, in a Mercedes, with a time of 14h57’11”, buggy category was won by Mehdi Ouazene and Nadir Sahlaoui with a time of 12h35’30”.
Italian team was successful in the T4 category. First overall, Marino Mutti, with co driver Andrea Mazzoleni, in Unimog U400, finished in just over 11 hours and with a gap of only 2 hours from the winner of class T1.
After the victory at Transanatolia in August, the Bergamese crew was at the start of the Algerian rally raid aboard a powerful 300 hp Mercedes and tackled the race track reaching El Menea, Timimoun and El-Abiodh Sidi Cheikh through Erg before recovering towards Algiers. “The truck allowed us to compete on fast tracks and stretches of dunes – says Mutti – Landscapes (those of the Western Grand Erg) have been really exciting. Reducing the length of asphalt roads between one stage and the other would be one of the improvements for the next edition”.
The second place of T4 went to other Italians registered in the race, with number 121, Elio Moro and David Giovannetti, aboard a Man F2000 of TeamItalia.
Chotts, palm trees, sand plateaus and reddish cliffs accompanied the off road adventure of 30 crews involved in 4 stages of the road book prepared for this motorsport event. “Beyond the sport, this rally raid was a major tourist event that allowed, despite its problems, to discover all the landscapes of the Algerian desert in total safety” – explains Chihab Baloul, president of the Algerian Federation. More information about Sahari Challenge – www.algeriett.com
Text & photo Sonja Vietto Ramus