On 16 December Reg hack John Oates will leave Blighty and travel to distant Gambia in a 20 quid Citroen van - and its all for charity.
Yup, it's time again for the annual Plymouth-Banjul rally - just the like the Paris-Dakar event "but for poorer, more stupid, people", as John himself puts it. Once the vehicles limp into Banjul, they're auctioned for charity, and last year the organisers raised £27K for worthy Gambian causes. Here's some background from our intrepid expeditionist and his co-driver Alexei Boltho:
The rally was started by a guy called Julian Nowill who wanted to do the Paris-Dakar rally but thought £22 grand was a bit expensive. I got involved after accidentally belittling a friend's chances of success...
The rules are simple: cars must cost less than £100; preparations must cost less than £15; competitors get no assistance from organisers; all vehicles must be auctioned for charity in Gambia; all vehicles must be left-hand drive.
We found a left-hand drive C15 Citroen van in Totnes, Devon. A nice man called Jeff let us have the car for £20 - we doubled the value of the car by filling it up with petrol. It was a little damp and rather mossy having been left under a tree for a year and a half but the engine ran ok. With the help of our sponsors at classiccarstorage.co.uk we managed to get her through an MOT.
It was at this point i realised there was some danger of us actually going.
Around forty cars are leaving on December 16 - one of four leaving dates for the rally. Our group includes a 1964 Bedford Fire engine and a Volkswagen Beetle. We go through France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia. Difficulties include the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara, a small minefield on the Mauritanian border...
We hope to make it in about three weeks. Once there all the cars and kit are auctioned for local charities. Any additional sponsorship we get will go to Mine Action Group who clear landmines around the world.
Any useful kit would be welcome as would any technology we could borrow and use during the rally.
So there you have it. John says he's looking for camping stuff, a satellite phone and sundry automotive accessories including some internal lights for the vehicle. For more details or to offer your support email him (not me) direct here.®