Touareg Trail 2CV Africa Challenge 2009 – Trip Report
Raising Awareness and valuable funds for Motor Neurone Disease Association.
By Richard Hollis and Eleanor Chubb.
Hello to all you 2cvtv viewers. We’ve just returned from our successful four week Africa challenge for Charity Motor Neurone Disease Association and have been asked to write a small piece telling you how we got on.
Neither Eleanor or Richard are new to Citroen projects or crazy charity trips. Richard, a Design teacher from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire has family links with chosen charity Motor Neurone Disease Association. In 2008 he drove the UK’s longest 2CV limousine through 19 countries to Turkey and back in 14 days, raising £2000 for MNDA. In his spare time he also races 2CV’s in the national championship, including the UK’s only 24 hour race, at Snetterton.
Eleanor is an artist and teacher from Norwich, Norfolk. In 2007 she successfully participated in the Touareg Trail. Not only did she complete the challenge but became the first British female to win the rally and achieve the team spirit award. Eleanor says: “This is the final and most extreme Touareg Trail, cutting straight into the Sahara desert to provide the ultimate test to man and machine.”
Report on Project
After frantic preparations, fantastic support and a non stop 4 weeks away, we are proud to announce that Eleanor and Richard have successfully completed the Touareg Trail Hardcore Edition in aid of MNDA.
To recap we drove an 80% off-road route to central Africa from Brussels in Belgium, across France, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina-Faso and Togo with the finished at the sea in Benin. We traveled 6000 miles in just 28 days. Driving the legendary Citroen 2CV, we were one of twenty teams from all over Europe.
Crazily, we chose to build our rally car from a 25 year old wreck named ‘Cookie’ which was saved from a scrap yard crusher. It still bears the marks of a Fiat that was sat on its roof. Keen on recycling, we gave the 2CV a nut and bolt rebuild that used second hand parts where ever possible. Upon reflection building a rally car could have been started a little earlier than 6 weeks before. Fortunately for all concerned the car was completed to the high standard required despite the need for a full engine and gearbox change with 7 days to go, resulting in our only pre rally test being one trip to local Co-op and back.
Within the first week of the trip neither of us were sure we would finish, as the rocky terrain was bending front driving arms and ripping shock absorbers off on both our car and fellow participants’ cars. Fortunately after the boulders and corrugated roads of Morocco, the hard terrain stopped, but was replaced, by the soft sand of the West Sahara. The sand was so soft in places we were forced to travel along the active railway used by the world’s longest train, which incidentally, takes 13km to stop. This is a two day section was taken to pass through the barren Western Sahara dunes via a famous Paris-Dakar rally route. The route was believed to be impassible by two wheel drive cars but we proved this to be wrong by making it across this desert section safely, even though we had to get off the tracks for the oncoming train more than once.
The trip was very tough, physically and mentally, but it was fascinating to drive through such a drastically changing landscape. On the whole people were amazingly friendly and happy we were visiting their country. The only time we sensed a little danger was camping in Mauritania. Terrorist threats meant we spent two nights being protected by fifty soldiers of the Mauritanian army. Togo also proved interesting with its armed check points, as it has only in recent years become politically stable.
Every car without exception made it over the finish line in Benin. Not only were we the youngest team to participate in the challenge, but we were surprised and honored to be awarded the ‘Best Team Spirit’ Award by our fellow participants.
Returning to England, just before Christmas was a big culture shock, and it took several weeks to feel normal again. Although there are no more rallies plans, we are both busy with creative projects closer to home after our inspirational trip. Cookie the rally car is now also back having arrived by boat to Antwerp, Belgium and enjoying a well deserved rest.
You will be pleased to hear our antics have also not gone unnoticed by the press and we have been able to highlight MNDA and their vital work through newspaper and television exposure in both Northampton and Norfolk. They have been very good in explaining the reality of MND being a cruel and fatal illness, with no answers as to its cause as yet. A national paper is also showing interest, so fingers crossed. It’s been great to do something positive for Susan (Richard’s mum) who is currently suffering from MND.
We are very close to our target of 5000 pounds for MNDA and hope to reach it by February, when a presentation to the charity is scheduled to take place. Photos and stories of the trip can be found on our website www.snailafrica.co.uk. We would like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you to all of you who have been kind enough to offer support to our crazy trip. 100% of all donations will be presented to MNDA in February.
We will be hosting a series of thank you talks with slide show and hopefully a film of trip along with information on how the money will be spent. If you would like to come along, please get in touch. Finally if you haven’t already donated, please visit our ‘just giving page’ at www.justgiving.com/snailafrica/ Thank You.
For those of you interested here is a list of the main things added to the car as part of rally preparation.
Our Africa proof spec…
• Reinforced chassis (front legs to rear suspension can mount)
• Re conditioned steering rack and reinforced rack.
• Tank guard protector
• Sump and gearbox protector
• 6 point Roll cage
• Side exit exhaust
• Polycarbonate tinted windows
• Citroen BX seats
• 6 new Mabor tyres
• 10 Michelin inner tubes
• Extra fog lights and up-rated headlights
• 123 ignition
• New brake pads, pipes and cylinders
• Aluminum brake coolers
• Tubeless steel front and rear bumpers
• Steering column universal joint
• Air horn
• Light coloured Matt’s Soft Tops Canvas roof.
To donate please visit www.justgiving.com/snailafrica