Woodford Green school pals prepare for 6,000 mile Sahara adventure

Two friends since their Woodford Green school days are about to set off on a 6,000 mile Saharan adventure with a 49-year-old Land Rover for company.

Adam Ataar, 30, of Broomhill Road, Woodford Green, and Alex Collard, 30, of Cambridgeshire, have previously endured marathon drives that have taken them as far as Mongolia.

The former pupils at Woodbridge High School, St Barnabas Road, will depart from The Green in Woodford Green in the early hours of June 23 with the sparsely populated Western Sahara as their destination.

They hope to return in two-and-a-half weeks while raising thousands of pounds for global aid agency Mercy Corps.

Adam said: “Friends think it’s quite fascinating and family worry a bit more.

“They think we’re a bit crazy for our relentless pace.”

After racing through Europe, they will enter into Morocco and then the Western Sahara, a territory disputed between Morocco and the Sahrawi people.

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Obstacles include temperatures that could top 50 degrees, passport checks at every town and one of the largest concentrations of land mines in the world.

Adam explained: “It’s almost like a wall of land mines to stop the Sahrawi people trying to reclaim land from Morocco.

“As long as we stay clear, we should be fine.”

The pair, who call themselves the Rusty Rhinos, first got the driving bug in 2007 when they took part in the Mongol Rally, driving through Kazakhstan, Russia and the Ukraine in a Suzuki off-road vehicle.

On subsequent challenges to Algeria and Morocco, in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and this year, they have relied on ‘Red’, their beloved ex-military vehicle.

Adam said: “Last time, ‘Red’ suffered a snapped chassis, a head gasket failure, clutch failure, gearbox failure, overheating and completely failed shock absorbers.”

The duo have raised �1,000 for Mercy Corps so far for this journey and �3,800 in total during their challenges.

It is possible to follow their journey through a GPS tracker and make a donation at www.rustyrhinos.com/moroccanrally2012.