Omega at the Panda Raid, a race within a race
Arriving in Marrakech, Morocco on May 6th archived the 2023 edition of a Panda Raid that put competitors and vehicles to the test.
Twenty of them started in Verona under the Omega flag, and just as many reached the finish line and completed a long marathon from Spain, covering two thousand four hundred kilometers of effective combat against themselves and their opponents.
The primary goal was achieved, not to bring an end, but to create solidarity with the local population and renew the social image that characterizes the Scaliger team.
The adventure of President Ivano Griso ended outside the general classification when Mirko Caloi played, slowed down by a technical problem, a dune conquered with too much enthusiasm and also a physical problem.
“It’s a race within a race” – says Ivano Griso (President of Omega) – “because the challenge is more personal than the fight against the clock, but our main objective remains solidarity”. Our pandas were with notebooks, pens, rulers, biscuits , sweets and other food, which we distributed to the little inhabitants of the desert. Twenty of us started and just as many arrived, although I was disqualified from the classification because I had a high fever and intestinal problems because I retired from a stage. The heat reached over 46 degrees and although the stages were short, it was easy to get disoriented on the sandy sections. We drank six to eight liters of water to keep from dehydration, but it was hot since we didn’t have a refrigerator or other amenities on board. It’s like living here at the groundbreaking Dakars of the ’70s and ’80s. An indescribable emotion.”
On board the Fiat Panda 4×4, the flag bearers of the Verona team, officially endorsed by ACI Verona, in the Raid version, managed to overcome the dangers of the desert.
The best was Daniele Bertolini from Bergamo paired with Antonella Rutigliano who, after a problem with the gearbox and some moments of discouragement, managed to finish nineteenth overall among the 4×4s, followed by Federico Paolo in twenty-eighth Brunelli is, along with Maurizio Corradi, the first of the Veronese teams to meet their end.
Forty-eighth place in 4×4 for compatriots Stefano Pietropoli and Alessandra Bianconi, well ahead of Nicola Valentini from Vicenza, flanked by Fabio Cecchi and supported by Alpha.
The engine replacement cost Treviso’s Giuseppe Cazziolato and Maurizio Bertolin big bucks when they finished 71st, ahead of Verona’s Andrea and Fabio Volpato, 79th and penalized by the failure of a suspension that didn’t demoralize father and son.
Another all-family team, made up of Gianluca Marini and his son Henry, who had traveled straight from London to face the desert, eighty-three in all.
91st place went to Massimiliano Losi from Padua with Marco Lion, who blamed the failure of the rear shock absorbers, ahead of Milan’s Luca Mantegazza with Ivan Ignazio Rosina.
Claudio Zambelli, deputy leader of the Veronese Association expedition with his partner Nadia Zamperini, after burning four gas pumps, decided to build a free fall channel up to the carburetor, directly from the tanks placed on the roof, which allowed him to finish in box Number ninety-three of the final standings.
Close behind him landed Luciano Favaro from Padua with Daniela Zanchin at his side, already punished by boiling water on the first stage, with the head gasket replaced in the middle of the desert and restarted thanks to the intervention of local technicians.
One hundred shares for Giorgio Bianconi, always ready to help anyone in trouble at the expense of his personal merit, sharing the cockpit with Rossano Riolfi.
The journey is also complete for the Swiss representation, Enrico Piana at the wheel with Andreas Rafael at his side, one hundred and twelfth at the finish line, ahead of the Paduan Attilio Barzon with Georgeta Cristina Indrea, slowed down by the rear differential failure.
Some problems with the power supply of their Fire engine got Verona’s Roberto Dalla Riva in trouble along with Carla Benedetti Vallenari who finished one hundred and eighteen at the end.
Valerio Renato Gastoldi and Mauro Pegorini, despite being eliminated from the general classification due to technical problems, were the on-board accountants, sharing their fate with Marcello Tracanzan and Moreno Vanin, who left stage five with fuel pumps overheating, forcing them to seek rescue outside the competition field.
Completing the Omega squad were Swiss Fulvio Salis, ninety-first among the 4x4s with Durietta Salis, and Marcel Lauber, seventy-ninth with Daniele Zanolati on his right.