Blacktower dash to Marrakesh

news: Blacktower dash to Marrakesh

John Westwood from Blacktower International will be competing in the fourth ‘Sahara Challenge’, a Moroccan endurance rally for vintage cars.

There will be an impressive turnout of 31 classic vehicles, including Bentleys dating back to the 1920s and 1930s. All vehicles must be at least 30-years-old to be eligible to participate.

John’s participation is to raise money for an extremely worthwhile cause. Proceeds will be divided between two cancer relief charities, following the premature deaths last year of two male friends and clients of Blacktower. Half of all funds raised will go to the Princess Alice Hospice in England which provides care for terminally ill cancer patients. The other half will go to a special cancer care unit at Kingston Hospital in London – the unit has already raised 2.5 million euros towards its target of three million euros.

John Westwood spoke to The Resident about this exciting, if daunting, challenge that started on Tuesday. “There’s three of us – John Virgo, a British UK-based accountant (who will also manage donations to the fund through his practice), a colleague, Andrew, from Portugal, and myself. We will all be taking turns with navigation and driving, and will be travelling in a 1965 250 Mercedes,” he was happy to explain.

“We are allowed to upgrade the suspenders, the shields underneath the cars and the cooling systems, but obviously the cars concerned are all too old to have air conditioning. Drivers are not allowed to increase the overall capacity of the engine. The winners of the rally receive a cup from the endurance rally association. Some of the cars are real antiques, worth half a million pounds.”

Back-up will come from a couple of four-wheel drives and an emergency helicopter, which will provide assistance in case of accidents. The European governing body for car rallies will travel from Switzerland, before the start of the race, to ensure compliance with safety and rally standards.

The route takes John and his co-drivers from Ronda in Spain, where they will cross the straits of Gibraltar and then onto Tangiers in Morocco. From there, they travel to Fez, Erfoud, Zagora, Ouarzazete and Marrakesh, and then begin the return journey. The trip takes the drivers through the Western Riff mountains, the Sahara desert and the Atlas foothills.

The drivers will be staying in specially designated overnight accommodation, but, on most days, they will cover hundreds of kilometres. The longest day of the challenge will take place on October 12, when John and the other drivers will travel a distance of 548 kilometres from Marrakesh to Fez. “Hopefully, you will not be seeing us on the 10 o’clock news!” says John.

John will be taking photographs of the trip en route and compiling a video diary which should make for interesting viewing. His car will drive from Tangiers back to the Algarve on Friday October 15.

The car will then travel to the Blacktower stand at the BLIP exhibition where John and his associates will be delighted to accept donations. Readers can also send donations to Blacktower at their Algarve or London offices (addresses below). You are kindly requested to make cheques payable to the Borresen-Palmar Fund. All contributions will be paid to the fund free of deductions.

Addresses: (Algarve) Blacktower International, International Business Centre, Quinta Shopping, Loja 102, 8135-862 Almancil. Telephone 289 417 267 or 289 392 703. (London) Blacktower Financial Management Limited, Copsem House, Copsem Lane, Esher, Surrey KT10 9HJ.