back to article Kidnap fears kybosh charity car rally

The Plymouth to Dakar Challenge - a charity drive across the Sahara using highly unsuitable cars - has been forced into a last minute cancellation because of warnings of al-Qaeda snatch squads targeting drivers on the route. The cars, which should cost less than £100, cross Europe and Morocco before entering Mauritania and …


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  1. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Down

    great shame

    when excellent races like these are cancelled !!

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    An Alternative Venue

    How about a race from ... say St. Paul, Minnesota in the US to Salvador, Brazil in the same cars? Less risk (they don't have to drive through New York) and better opportunities for TV coverage and Journalistic junkets?

    1. Anton Ivanov

      US customs will not allow it

      The coffins on wheels which participate in these races cannot get within visual range of US customs. Which is a pity, it would have been fun. I would have never considered taking any car short of a T-72 cross Africa. Cross LatAm in a Citroen Saxo or Peugeout 106, now, after the Salvador and Nicaragua wars are over sounds like a jolly good idea.

    2. wayne 8

      @Alternative - Did you mean Sao Paulo?

      St. Paul to Sao Paulo makes more sense, or as much as such a race would anyway.

      For a mini rally-race through less combative regions there is always the Goodrich, Michigan USA to Goderich, Ontario CAN - The Good-God Rally.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1000 percent

    How can you be "1000 percent sure" of anything?

    I guess the rot started when some footballer or another, for artistic effect, claim to have "given 101%" in a game, and it's grown since then. 110%. 120%. 200%.

    Before you know it it's late 2009 and someone has decided the only adequate percentage to ensure you've made your point is a thousand.

    Right, I've got a million things to do, so...

  4. The Original Ash

    Cost less than £100, pay £20 in preperation?!

    I paid more than that for my walking boots!

    Seriously, though, if we start cancelling events like this because of the terr'rists, then they've won. They've made their point, and they've disrupted our lives to do it.

    1. NoDosh

      So Ash.....

      You'd be prepared to do take a drive through the area in question then?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You're absolutely right - we shouldn't give in to the terrorists

      Now show us the courage of your convictions, buy a car for £100 and go drive that route sticking two fingers up to al-Qaeda as you go.

      We're all right behind you

    3. Ivor Kintol D'uso

      Cheap cars: expensive boots

      <I paid more than that for my walking boots!>

      My son conned me into buying him a pair of Meindl boots for £194 which, as I pointed out to him, was twice what the truck we use for hunting/shooting/fishing was worth (1996 Lada Niva)!! Every time I fill the tank the car doubles in value...

  5. Russell 2


    Poor bastards. I did the Mongol Rally this year, and for a long time it looked like we weren't going to be able to go through Iran because Foreign Office advice to avoid the place would have invalidated our travel insurance. In the end, things came together, and Iran was probably our favourite place on the rally. Bloody shame that it can't happen that way all the time - think how much these poor sods will have spent on visas, for a start!

    As a minor correction to the article, The Adventurists Africa Rally is still launching this Saturday from Dunsfold, but there will be "a different destination" according to the organisers.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget ...

    to say hello to Dennis Thatcher should you meet him.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Strange - four comments already...

    ...and no-ones sniggered about the use of the term "snatch squads" yet. Apart from me of course (snigger).

  8. Vincent Ballard


    A yellow fever vaccine probably costs at least twenty quid nowadays and is an entry requirement for some of the countries en route.

  9. Ian Ferguson
    Paris Hilton

    Question for author

    As a matter of interest, do you think the person who paid £900 for your car (which you bought for £20) got value for money? I'm not trying to be a devil's advocate, I'm just interested how the economics of the fund-raising work - at a cursory glance, it sounds like you're raising money by fleecing the locals in the charity target country.

    I'm sure it's not like that, but I'm wondering how it does work - did you add £880 to the value of the car through running repairs? Or are budget cars worth more in that part of the world due to scarcity?

    Anyway, I hope this excellent rally restarts - I dearly hope to take part myself one day, although my vehicle of choice would be motorcycle rather than car - I don't know how to repair anything with more than two wheels :)

    1. john oates (Written by Reg staff)

      value for money

      hi Ian,

      Secondhand cars in most African countries rarely fall much below that in price. This is partly due to scarcity and partly politics. Gambia has a 100 per cent import duty on cars - but the rally organisers managed to do a deal to avoid this.

      At the border we had a couple of offers from people who dismantle cars and take them over the border piece by piece in order to dodge the tax.

      Dealing with the import duties, and other hassles, means that most imports are expensive cars to make the process worthwhile.

      have to admit i've failed to get in touch with the buyer to find out what happened.



    2. UpUp&Away

      shame (and how it works)

      I am one of those supposed to be going on the Plymouth-Dakar Challenge(I was going to Bamako in Mali others were going to continue to Freetown etc).

      Most people have pulled out. One Austira group even had the police and a foreign office representative turn up at their parents house (who they didn't even live with) to convince them that it was not a good idea to go.

      We've also heard reports that the Guinea military are behaving badly to foreigners (as well as nationals) but that might be more rumour- I haven't checked it out at this stage.

      Right now, nobody is really thinking about the costs involved- more the missed opportunity and the fact the charities in Mali will suffer. We're trying to work out other ways to help.

      To answer your question about buying for £20 in Europe and selling for £900 in Africa. Yes it's because the cars and equipment are scarce- they're desperate for resources of almost any type! Usually this is because of tax, corruption, laws to impede imports or similar. Governments want too much of any economic activity to let the people benefit too much.

      The value difference may sound like profiting from suffering BUT the money goes to charities in the region so NO money is taken out of the country. Our charity was the Rotary Club of Mali which (national lottery like) hands out grants for worthy projects which (crucially) demonstration of good governance. We feel this is what Africa needs far more of which is why we chose to target it this way. We are self funding the trip (not raising money to spend) so it is 100% input into the area.

      At least it was before it was too dangerous to go and likely to be kidnapped. But WE'LL BE BACK! There's talk of organising an army escort for next year- we just didn't have time this one after the news broke.

      Ian "TeamMinicab"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I hate these poor people events anyway...If you're going to take part in a road rally then at least do it in a propper car costing more than a family weekly shop would.

  11. Andy 97

    Still going

    My friend is still going.

    I expect to watch his progress on badly shot video shown on Al-Jazera.

    Poor lamb!

    1. Andy 97


      Having just got off the phone to one of the entrants I can confirm that many of them are shipping their cars over to Dakar directly and intend to continue by missing the 'hot spots'.

      His biggest disappointment was not to be driving through Timbuktu.

      Mind you, the car they were doing it was an L-reg Renault 5.... braver than I thought!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        That is a awesome car

        Indestructible pretty much unless you drop a piano on it !!

      2. Ian 54


        People are doing the Plymouth to Dakar rally by "shipping their cars over to Dakar directly and intend to continue by missing the "hot spots". The hot spots being, then, the Plymouth to Dakar leg of the Plymouth to Dakar rally?

  12. Anonymous Coward


    ...don't even remind me about the Dakar cancellation. It's like they personally called up Osama Bin Laden and said, "Excuse me, sir, how can we best kowtow to your every whim? We'd like to make absolutely sure that people know you have the power to prevent any given action we want to take merely by flicking your little finger. Maybe we should cancel? Would that be good for you?"

    What a bunch of utter assholes. I don't care if there's "a danger" - what's the point of pretending we're fighting terrorism when we take precisely the actions they wish us to take, change our government in precisely the ways they wish us to, all on our OWN?! We don't even need actual terrorism - one scary event plus a pop-up cardboard effigy, target practice style, is apparently enough to rip the balls *and* backbone out of an entire society.

    Maybe next we should cancel Christmas - after all, a terrorist might knock down a pine tree somewhere. Even if there's only a 1% chance, SAFETY FIRST, RIGHT?!

    I swear to god, I'm going to start my own organization that will issue threats when people cancel events because of threats. Maybe then the wretched, spineless safety-mongers will either recognize their cravenness or -- better -- spontaneously combust.


  13. pdsok

    Errrr that would be MARK Thatcher . . . . . . . .

    and in the idiot's defence, a lot of people get lost on the Dakar but the shit sheets only mention it if you are related to someone famous and they can use it as an excuse to make both parties look like idiots - piss poor journalism for piss poor 'news' rags.

    Cancelling this rally and and The Dakar rally really do seem like good ideas, yes you CAN take the risk but they are very real risks, the Dakar has regularly been subjected to ambush and the like by gun toting morons who would be more than happy to kill you and hack you to bits for good measure cos they want your wheels ( sound like Beaumont Leys or Brauny in the old days) so why put competitors lives at risk just to make the point that 'we are not bowing down to terrorists and nor are our dead comrades.

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