[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 08:25 GMT
Wacky racers head for desert
The Pink Peril
Dick Dastardly and Penelope Pitstop are competing in the 'Pink Peril'
A fleet of battered old bangers set off from Devon on Friday at the start of the Plymouth-Dakar rally.

While the famous Paris-Dakar rally is the ultimate test for man and machine; the Plymouth version is a challenge for cars that have seen better days.

The wacky racers will drive across seven countries in 20 days as they head for the Sahara Desert in aid of charity.

Competing cars must cost less than 100, preparation expenses are limited to 15m, and once the rally is under way, no outside support, mechanics or back-up trucks are allowed.

Among the vehicles aiming to cover the 3,700 mile journey is a Bedford ice-cream van, a 1962 Ford Corsair and a rusting Hillman Hunter.

It's cheap, cheerful and fun, and it's taking the mickey out of the Paris-Dakar rally
Julian Nowill, rally organiser
The organisers emphasise that "participants are on their own". There is no official back-up to help ease the way across tricky border posts and there are no arrangements for medical emergencies.

The rally is the brainchild of Exeter stockbroker and car-wreck enthusiast Julian Nowill.

"If you have a sense of adventure but relatively little cash, then the Plymouth-Dakar Challenge might be up your street," said Mr Nowill.

"It's cheap, cheerful and fun, and it's taking the mickey out of the Paris-Dakar rally."

Benefit charities

The Challenge is intended to benefit about 100 charities across the Gambia.

At the end of the three-week adventure, any vehicles still running will be donated for use by charities and the remaining cars and equipment will be auctioned off.

Forty-five cars took part in the inaugural event at the start of 2003, but this time there will be 141 vehicles.

The number of entries means there will be three separate start days - 19 December, 26 December and 1 January.

The route starts in Plymouth, heads across France and Spain to Gibraltar, and then down through Morocco, the Sahara, Senegal and Gambia.


SEE ALSO:
Bath men rally to charitable cause
28 Jan 03  |  England


RELATED BBCi LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific