|What||Morocco Desert Challenge Report|
|When||12-20 April 2019|
Thomas stars in Morocco Desert Challenge
South African equipe Red-Lined Motoring Adventures with Sabertooth cut another significant notch in their belt when UAE-based British duo Thomas Edward Bell and Patrick McMurren piloted their SA-built Dragon Energy Nissan Navara across the finish line at Oujda-Saïdia to complete another brilliant adventure at the Morocco Desert Challenge on Saturday afternoon.
The treacherous 3 000km eight-day race across the Sahara Desert now brings the pair’s 100% finishing rate to four races and more than 10 000km of racing over 26 days since the beginning of the year. It started at the Dakar, before ticking off the Dubai Baja with a top-ten finish, ending third in class at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and now bringing it home following a star performance in the Morocco Desert Challenge too.
“We are absolutely delighted to have finished all four of the international cross country raids we have entered so far this season, gentleman racer Bell admitted. “Most significant about that, is that we had never completed a race like this before we teamed up with Terence Marsh and the Red-Lined team, but since then, we have not only raced and finished, but we have also proven quite competitive in spite of the fact that we are doing it first and foremost for the adventure; the romance of it…
Bell and McMurren started the week cautiously in 12th among the cars on the first day and continued at that pace for the next two days. “We let the race come to us,” Thomas explained. “And come to us it did — we were up to 8th overall on Day 4 so we pushed a bit harder, then went to fifth and we were third on Thursday evening with two days left to run!
“Then disaster struck — our car stuttered to a halt, we tracked the problem to a faulty crank sensor and there was nothing we could do about that in the middle of the desert, except wait for assistance. "By then we were already in deep trouble with penalties and ruing what could have been. "Fact is we were in third overall and the leading car on the road by a comfortable margin, but all those penalties dropped us way back among a group of cars that were all delayed by similar issues along the way — at least we were not alone in our disappointment!
“I think we have done an incredible job for a privateer team who are here mainly for the fun and the experience of it all and we owe a depth of gratitude to our team, both our Sabertooth guys and the Red-Lined crew from SA. “We are moving mountains right now and having a hell of a blast doing that. “It’s such an awesome feeling!”
Bell and McMurren focus on the second round of the South African Cross Country Series, the KZN Berg 400 in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains next, over the 11 May weekend before the Toyota Desert 1000 in June.
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