Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1266, (15 - 21 October 2015)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1266, (15 - 21 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Egyptian adventure

The 2015 Cross Egypt Rally Challenge, a test of endurance on motorcycles and scooters, starts next weekat the Giza Pyramids Plateau, reports Ghada Abdel-Kader

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The fifth edition of the nine-day Cross Egypt Rally Challenge is scheduled to start on Friday 23 October and ends on Saturday 31 October.

The official launch is on Thursday 22 October at 6pm in City Centre, Alexandria.

This year, famed Portuguese racer Joao Rebelo Martins and the Egyptian voyager Omar Mansour are participating. This is the second time for Mansour to compete.

This year the route’s length is 2,200km. It begins from the Mediterranean's largest coastal city, Alexandria, then heads south to the old oasis of Fayoum -- now a modern city -- en route to the Red Sea Riviera to explore the amazing resort cities of Ain Sokhna and Hurghada.

The challenge will then head west and cross the Egyptian Eastern desert -- one of the toughest deserts on the face of the planet -- to reach the Nile Valley and the ancient city of Luxor, the world's largest open air museum, and the capital of Ancient Egypt where the participants will spend two days celebrating the rally's fifth anniversary.

From Luxor the riders head back east and will cross the Egyptian Eastern Desert for the second time, this time through a different route to reach the amazing diving city of Marsa Alam where they will camp by the sea.

From Marsa Alam, the challenge will head back north to make one last stop at El-Gouna before the last stage of the 2015 season of Cross Egypt Challenge from El-Gouna to Cairo to end the new season under the Great Pyramids of Giza on Saturday 31 October.

This year, a larger number of international and Egyptian riders are participating. Seventy-five drivers (21 Egyptians, 17 women and 54 internationals) have come from 12 countries – the US, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, Mexico, India, Brazil, Portugal and Egypt.

The official spokesman of the challenge Ahmed Al-Zoghbi said: “As this year we are celebrating the fifth year of Cross Egypt Challenge, we have planned a totally different route for this special season of the adventure rally. Cross Egypt Challenge is meant to bring global media attention to Egypt and to confidently announce that Egypt is safe for tourism. This year, we have 75 riders from 12 countries, a 25 per cent increase from last year’s numbers.”

Cross Egypt Challenge is an international series of endurance motorcycle and scooter rallies conducted throughout the most challenging roads and tracks of Egypt, a breathtaking experience that is equally fascinating for spectators and drivers alike. It is the only organised cross-country rally of its kind in the entire region and combines the best of adventure travel and extreme sport. Each season of the endurance rally introduces a new route throughout the most famous spots of Egypt, a feat that nobody ever thought could be done on motorcycles or scooters.

The rally is organised by the Rotary Club of Alexandria Cosmopolitan with the cooperation of the Egyptian Tourism Authority, the Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt and under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.

Cross Egypt Challenge started in 2011 with 15 participating countries covering a distance of 1,700km.

In 2012, participants increased to 26 countries which challenged a 2,400km route starting from Egypt’s famous capital and passing through the most exotic oases of the Egyptian Western Desert before ending the season in the world’s largest open-air museum, the city of Luxor.

In 2013, more than 45 countries took part in a 2,400km route rally starting from the famous coastal city Alexandria and passing through the Egyptian Eastern and Western Deserts before ending under the Great Sphinx in Giza.

Last year, the rally had participants from 11 countries and had the longest route to date with a 3,000km total distance that started from Alexandria in the very north of Egypt and finished at the Great Pyramids of Egypt after going all the way south to Abu Simbel and back.

Among the notable participants is Portuguese racer Martins, a marketing and communication consultant, a Rotarian, go-kart champion, traveller and a professional racer. Martins brings pride to his racing team, Road Galaxy of Portugal with his many talents.

Martinsstarted driving go-karts at the age of eight. He started driving for the first time at 10 and started his actual racing career when he was 18 years old. For the past 15 years he has raced almost everything from a Fiat Uno 1.0 to an Oreca LMPC.

Martins won his first race in 2001, and in 2003, his first championship title. In 2005, he started to race classic cars and prototypes and won many races along the way. He tested cars with many famous teams including Le Mans, Ginneta Portuguese and Aston Martin Portuguese.

In 2013 he won the FEUP 3 Touring Trophee championship with an Alfa Romeo and in 2014 he made the Portuguese rally cross with a Peugeot S2000 and won the first race of the championship.

Beside his racing career, Martins also loves to travel and experience new cultures. He created his blog “No More Missing All” to document his travel stories and new experiences.

Egyptian Mansour, 41, comes from a famous Bedouin tribe in the west of Alexandria. He is the first Egyptian who attempted to circle the world on his motorbike. He took on his first major adventure when he toured all over Egypt in 1996 for three months starting in Alexandria, passing along the way Marsa Matrouh, Siwa Oasis, heading south to Luxor, Aswan, the Red Sea, and Sinai before returning via Port Said, Damietta, Rashid and finally Alexandria.

Since a youngster, Mansour was passionate about motorcycles and travel, journeying for 13 years. His four main journeys so far include Alexandria to Paris (2002), followed by Western Europe (France-Spain-Portugal 2003), the East Coast of the US, from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico (2006), Cape Town in South Africa, to Cairo (2009), and in 2011 guiding a motorbike trip to deliver medical supplies to Africa starting from Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and back to Egypt.

In 2011, Mansour took off on his first international journey. He packed his motorcycles and rode between Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Italy and finished in France. A couple of years later, Mansour went back to the finish line to complete his journey to include the rest of Europe.

In the following years he rode across the US from north to south, west to east and through Europe again. In 2007 Mansour became the first Arab to complete a trans-African tour, riding across Africa on a motorcycle. He started his journey from the most southern point on the black continent (Cape Agulhas) in South Africa and rode all the way to Egypt. It was a journey that took over three months and was made with a message of unity for all African nations -- “One Africa”.

Mansour just finished his 12,000km trip to the North Cape in the far north of Norway. He is considered the first Arab to reach the South Cape and North Cape on a motorcycle. “This adventure was very important for me to encourage adventure tourism in Egypt. It had good reactions. The Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou honoured me in celebrations marking the International Day of Tourism. At this time we have to focus on adventure tourism in Egypt like the rally, scuba diving, diving, windsurfing, safari, cycling, automobile and motorsports and water sports,” Mansour said.

Mansour told Al-Ahram Weekly, “Last year, the media from 80 countries covered the Cross Egypt Challenge event. This year we have 75 competitors from every part of the world. Such a rally shows the natural beauty and touristic monuments of our country. It proves to the whole world how safe our country is.”

Mansour gave the Weekly a scoop on the Cross Africa-Challenge. “In January 2016, Egypt will hold the Cross Africa Challenge to reinforce relations between Egypt and Nile Basin countries. It will have a good impact on social, political and economic aspects. It will be several adventures and journeys between Egypt and Nairobi. The rally will start from Cairo, passing by many African countries, including Sudan and Ethiopia, until we reach Nairobi. Then, we return to Cairo.”

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