Andrew Newland finishes second in the annual Merzouga motorsport Rally in Morocco


Merzouga - Credit: Archant

Lying on the bone-dry landscape, battered and bruised, motorcyclist Andrew Newland had just hit a tree stump and careered off course.

Welcome to Southern Morocco and the Merzouga Rally, a six-day event spanning over 1,500km of desolate terrain.

Over 130 competitors from 25 countries compete to be crowned king of this gruelling riding and navigating competition.

Potters Bar business owner Newland told the Potters Bar Edition: “I got caught up in the adrenaline.

“I shot over the top of a dune and on the way back down, I hit the obstacle. It took me five minutes to get up and compose myself.

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“It hindered me for the rest of the race, but I wasn’t going to give up.”

Despite the 40-year-old’s fall he managed to finish an incredible second in the expert class of the off-road race.

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It was even more incredible as just one year previous, and embarking on his inaugural Merzouga challenge, Newland found the going extra tough.

Five out of seven days, he had required emergency rescue in order to finish that day’s racing and inevitably finished last.

Not prepared to be beaten by the African ordeal, the rider, along with Letchworth-based team Torque Racing, re-entered the race this year and amazingly took his place on the second step of the podium.

Moreover, he finished highest of all 15 Brits that had entered.

Newland continued: “Last year I had trouble navigating and racing to be honest.

“Luckily I was rescued all but one day but I thought if I came back next year I could give it a real go and with the introduction of an expert class alongside the professional sectors, I was determined to return and better last year’s performance.

“The key is to find the right balance in terms of nutrition and rest times.

“Everyday is an early start to begin the 250-300km hike so you have to make sure you’re well rested and eat well before you begin.

“Within the race, you only get a 15-minute pit stop for adjusting the bike so with having to navigate your own route and concentrating for long periods of time, it can be draining but nothing was going to be as hard as last year.

“Some people may find it lonely but I just got on with it and did the best I could.”

Newland, who along with his cousin Paul, owns Newland Construction in Potters Bar, knows all about endurance.

Away from motorcycling, the former 40-a-day smoker, is a keen triathlete and has completed races in Barcelona and Mallorca among others.

Newland will need all his strength and mental aptitude for his ultimate adventure as he aims for the Paris/Dakar Rally, although ironically not being held on that route in 2016.

He said:“They are moving it to South America in 2016 due to security fears in Senegal but I still want to be present wherever it is.

“In that event, if you falter you are sent home. There is no second chance so I want to make sure I am at my best in order to propser there.

“If I could finish around the top places again I would be over the moon.”

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