Rally challenge from Woodford Green to Africa ends in France

PUBLISHED: 09:26 17 August 2012

Alex Collard (right) and friend Drew, found through a Land Rover internet forum, work on Red in the south of France

Alex Collard (right) and friend Drew, found through a Land Rover internet forum, work on Red in the south of France


Two intrepid former schoolmates from a Woodford Green school have been left disappointed when a rally challenge to Africa ended in France.

Adam Ataar, 30, of Broomhill Road, Woodford Green, and Alex Collard, 30, of Cambridgeshire, who met at Woodbridge High School, St Barnabas Road, had hoped to travel 6,000 miles to the Western Sahara in their trusted 1963 Land Rover nicknamed Red.

Unfortunately the pair’s journey ended just 24 hours into their mission after departing from The Green, Woodford Green.

500 miles from London, near Bordeaux in France, Red’s engine suffered a terminal failure.

But there was no question of the friends, who call themselves the Rusty Rhinos and who have previously driven Red to Morocco and Algeria through a host of problems including a snapped chassis and head gasket failure, returning in shame.

Adam said: “We are definitely positive. We had been building up to the launch and to not get past France was disappointing, but we’ve now got an engine and we’ll be on our way this year.”

They had been anticipating driving in 50 degree temperatures through a territory disputed by Morocco and the Sahrawi people.

But the picturesque French countryside was as far as they got.

The friends were forced to sleep in the car overnight before driving it at 10mph on the motorway to the nearest major town, Angouleme.

Adam said: “We weren’t very popular.”

A contact found on an internet forum was able to provide assistance, but after stripping the engine, it was declared unsalvageable.

Adam and Alex had to return to England on June 26, via six trains, and though the car remains in France, to return this week, they haven’t given up on it.

It will be united with the new engine on its return before they attempt the challenge once again on September 8.

And they have already raised more than £1,100 for global aid agency Mercy Corps for this challenge.

Adam said: “We’re going to do another [fundraising] push.”

Visit to make a donation.

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