Monday, 21 January 2013


When the British Army set a new World Record for the non-stop drive from Cape Town to London in 1983, they had no idea that their record of 14 days would last for 30 years ...

On the anniversary, 1 February 2013, a fresh attempt is to be launched, when two British rally drivers, Philip Young and Paul Brace, set out in one of the smallest "eco" city-cars you can buy from a British showroom - a two-cylinder, 875cc Fiat Panda.

The two drivers have extensive experience of the route, including driving through Sudan and across the top of North Africa through Libya.

Young and Brace have had the car lightly modified with uprated suspension, a long-range tank, which enables the Panda to drive 600 miles between top-ups, and underbody protection, fitted-out by veteran, long-distance rally driver Tony Fowkes. It also has been equipped with a Yellowbrick tracker, the device which plots yachts in trans-world yacht races, to confirm that their progress is within local speed limits.

They leave Cape Town on 1 February and a giant map on the website, will monitor their progress, with the tracker bleeping every 30 minutes. They hope to drive 1,000 miles a day for ten days, to cross the line at Marble Arch on 11 February, at around 6.30pm, the same spot where the RAC Motor Sports Association's Neil Eason Gibson camped out in a deck chair to clock Brigadier John Hemsley's arrival in 1983.

The best-ever time of 11 days 14 hours for crossing the two Continents from London to Cape Town was set by a Land Rover Discovery two years ago. If the dynamic duo in their tiny Panda can match that target, they ought to also take the trophy for the best-ever time. The total distance is 10,300 miles.

The pair are hoping to raise over £10,000 for the UK charity, Farm Africa, which has agricultural projects in several countries along their route.

The first record was set in 1933, by a Morris 8; the driver, Alan Gilg, took 5 months and used 15 gallons of oil. This was reduced to 31 days by a journalist from The Motor magazine in 1939, driving a new Wolseley, beaten after the War by the newly-announced Austin Hampshire.

Rootes then entered the fray and took the record in a Hillman Minx, beating that in a Humber Snipe, before Eric Jackson snatched the record by just 18 minutes driving a new Ford Cortina 1500 Super.


The team on TV ...

Philip Young's book Available from Veloce! How to Build a Successful Low-Cost Rally Car – For Marathon, Endurance, Historic & Budget-car Adventure events
By Philip Young.

Simple, cost-effective, basic and reliable tips to ensure that any rally car stands a chance of reaching the finishing line. If you are planning a road-based rally, don't even think of leaving home before reading this book and implementing the tried and tested mods it describes so well.
More info.