Because the Outback Challenge Morocco is only three years old, it is still its infancy and is going through logistical growing pains. This is one of the reasons chasing the race became such an adventure. We media types were given the racers' map book and a military ration in the morning. We couldn't run the race route, and finding the special event stages before the racers arrived was a constant challenge. We were often late or in the completely wrong place. But as I like to say, "You're never lost, just exploring a bit." The race organizers are dedicated to clearing up these issues, setting the event up from a central bivouac, and making the Outback Challenge Morocco a world-class event. Major sponsors included ARB, BFGoodrich, and Warn Industries, and the race is organized by Outback Imports in France and Euro4x4parts 4x4. And with the Dakar rally cancelled this year and moving to South America next year, if the organizers can streamline the event, the Moroccan Outback Challenge may fill the void for North African 4x4 competitions.
Day One: 415 km, Nador to Djebel Klakh, Orienteering
Day Two: 340 km, Djebel Klakh to Boudenib: navigation, winch wall, rockcrawling course.
Day Three: 330 km, Boudenib to desert bivouac: navigation/orienteering
Day Four: 140 km, to Mhamid: Obstacles: Creek run, winch wall, navigation
Day Five: 210 km, Mhamid to Fourn-Zgata: 4-meter winch wall, navigation.
Day Six: 240 km, Fourn-Zgata to Taliouine: Two rockcrawling courses.
Day Seven: Two special sections and 200 km to Marakech
Due to the harsh conditions of North Africa and the knowledge that there would be a dozen special tasks set up by the officials, teams had a full array of additional equipment: Onboard GPS systems, long-range fuel cells, Hi-lift jacks, onboard air, and full racks of driving lights. As we might expect, all were running solid axles, most with modified factory configured aftermarket suspensions, a few with custom four-like setups. Tech information provided some interesting details of what the pros are using:
Lockers and axles: All teams were running front and rear lockers, of which 30 percent were factory units and an impressive 70 percent choosing ARB Air Lockers. Most axles were OEM units upgraded with Aschroft internals, with several teams running SpiderTrax 9-inch Ford and high-pinion Tera 60s.
Winch selection: All teams also utilized front and rear winches. It was no surprise that 85 percent selected the Warn 8274 for its speed, pulling power, and durability. Some were modified with twin motors and many were upgraded with Gigglepin internal gearing and shafts.
Tires and Wheels: Tire selection leaned towards the BFGoodrich Krawler and M/T (60 percent) with Interco, Maxxis, Simex, and Dunlop picking up the rest. Bead locks are a must for an event like this, and selections varied between Champion, Allied, Mach 5, and OEM units, with a large number of teams running Staun internal bead locks.
Under the Bonnet: With the exception of the buggies, teams were running slightly modified OEM mills, diesel outweighing gas by 10 to one. Gearboxes were mostly OEM, and all but one were manual transmissions and transfer cases.
Vehicle choices, as we might expect, was weighted towards Land Rovers, with a good showing for Nissan Patrols. The rest was a mix of Jeeps, Mercedes, and buggies.
Lights: Light Force claimed half the field with IPF, Warn, and PIAA picking up the rest.