Panda Raid is the exciting regular competition open only to Fiat Panda models built before 2003. Featuring both 4x2 and 4x4 versions, this year event left Madrid on 3 March, reaching Marrakesh on 10 March after taking on the Moroccan desert. The route covered a total of 3,000 kilometres, taking in sun-baked villages and sandy trails, crossing harsh terrains which would have been a tough challenge even for larger SUVs.
Now an established part of the Rally Raid calendar - which also includes the iconic Dakar - in spite of its amateur spirit, it was the 10th instalment of the Panda Raid and attracted a record entry of 400 historic Panda cars from all four corners of the Earth: from Argentina to Cambodia and from Pennsylvania to Italy.
A challenge between crews so expert that they are each able to choose their own route. The historic cars have no navigation system, so the crews are reliant on compasses to reach the finish line. Practically the only set stages of the course are the start and finish points. The scoring system used to determine the overall winner takes into account the passing of all checkpoints, and, in some sections of the race, speed.
Starting from Madrid, the colourful caravan first headed for the coast, to the port of Motril, from where, after a short ferry crossing, it travelled to Lake Mohammed V (4 March). From here, the expedition faced sandy lands and trails, desert areas and landscapes with an endless horizon, with stops in Bni Tadjide (5 March), Errachidia (6 March), Merzouga (8 March) and Tansikht (9 March). The final stage was on 10 March, finishing in legendary Marrakesh.
Every team received a medal for finishing and two of them were declared as the winners in 4x2 and 4x4 categories. Team Nr. 244 members Antonio Campos Mingorance and Miguel Angel Muinos Sanchez became the champions among 4x4 competitors, and team Nr. 202 (Jesus Miguel Varela Gonzalez and Alejandro Fraga Paradela) crossed the finish line as the best crew in 4x2 classification.
An amazing journey - which has been providing a magical combination of adventure, nature and pristine landscapes for 10 years - on board an automotive icon, with a total of more than 7.5 million cars built from 1980 to the present, which still delights even today with its toughness, handling and convenience. Alongside the 400 classic Panda cars in the race was a new Fiat Panda Cross 4x4, which covered the entire course. It was like a symbolic handshake between past and present of the model.
The success of “Panda Raid 2018” is just another of many Panda’s records. For example, as well as being the first city-car with 4WD (1983), the Panda was also the first car in its segment to receive the coveted “Car of the Year” title (2004), and in the same year, it was also the first city-car to climb to an altitude of 5,200 metres, at the Everest base camp.
Photos by Panda Raid 2018