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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 11:13 GMT
Drivers facing desert Christmas
Colin West and Dan Fedigan
Colin West and Dan Fedigan will be travelling for three weeks
As you tuck into your Christmas turkey, spare a thought for Colin West and Dan Fedigan.

Instead of festive over-indulgence, the south Wales pair will be bumping through the desert in a 1960s Trabant after a meal of "baked beans and sand".

On Christmas Day, they will be "somewhere south of Marrakech" on the 4,090-mile Plymouth-Dakar Challenge.

Colin, from Beddau, and co-driver Dan, from Cardiff, were among 60 teams setting off on Friday.

But - despite the suggestion in the title of the challenge - the route takes them straight through Dakar and does not stop until Banjul, capital of the Gambia.

It would be a tough journey even in a top-of-the-range off-roader, but none of the entrants will be driving a car costing more than 100.

Among the vehicles joining Colin and Dan's eggshell blue Soviet-era Trabant will be a 1979 Datsun Skyline, a 1981 Mercedes Transporter van and a rustically French Renault 4.

I haven't got a clue what I'm letting myself in for - it's all enthusiasm and no common sense
Colin West
But self-confessed banger fan Colin is not making the trip just for the fun of it.

The rally is designed as a charity fundraiser and the 43-year-old engineer and his co-driver - Team Hafan-A-Go - will be handing their sponsorship to Ty Hafan children's hospice, near Barry.

The route will take them from by sea from Plymouth to France, on to Spain, Gibraltar, by ferry to Morocco, around the western edge of the Sahara, into Mauritania and Senegal, before finishing in Banjul.

At the final destination, all the rally cars will be auctioned, with the proceeds going to African charities.

The journey will take them through the Christmas and new year period, with the finish scheduled after 22 days.

"My family are going to have Christmas without me, that's the only thing I feel guilty about," said Colin.

The Trabant
Colin and Dan's 'Trabbi' was a familiar sight in Soviet-era Europe
"Christmas will be spent somewhere south of Marrakech. We'll be having baked beans and sand for Christmas dinner, I should think.

"We've fitted the car with a stereo with 500 watt bass tubes. If we meet up with the rally people at a campsite on New Year's Eve, I can do a disco.

"I wouldn't have to worry about a taxi!"

Colin, who has so far only ventured as far as Madrid on a business trip and Lanzarote on a package holiday, read about the rally in a magazine.

He entered thinking the long waiting list would stand in the way of taking part this year and unexpectedly he made it into the line-up.

"I don't know what came over me. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now the old bottle's going!" he said.

"I haven't got a clue what I'm letting myself in for - it's all enthusiasm and no common sense.

"There's a right bunch going, it's a bit like Wacky Races, and I think I'm doing it in the worst car.

"Fingers crossed it will get me there but, God it's slow! The top speed is 56mph and it really starts to scream at that point.

"But it's not a bad little car. I feel a bit guilty really."

Rally raises charity cash
17 Jan 04 |  Somerset
Wacky racers head for desert
19 Dec 03 |  Devon

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