TWO Farnborough couples completed a 3000 mile rally in old bangers to Dakar in Senegal-and raised money for local charity by selling the cars in The Gambia.
Dave and Karen Dollemore from Fernhill Road and Matthew and Jaki Adams from Holly Road were among 40 teams in elderly Lada vehicles that set out on Boxing Day - all but five of the cars completed the journey.
The cars travelled in convoys of half a dozen cars and Karen and Dave were thankful for the help of their travelling companions on two occasions.
The first was when they first reached the desert, which turned out to be very rocky. A tie bar snapped and Dave was able to remedy the problem with the aid of a scaffolding pole that another driver had thoughtfully brought along.
Then the suspension went and a Latvian driver who knew all about Ladas said that three tennis balls would sort things out.
Said Karen: "To our amazement another driver produced a big bag of tennis balls which he had brought to give away to children!"
Their only other problem was at the Senegalese border where they came up against the local tradition of "dash" -bribes. The twelve cars were not allowed on the ferry until everyone had paid up and when they got to the other side there was another four-and-a-half hour delay while more money changed hands.
"The final straw was when we had got all our paperwork and someone else said he wanted money for parking there for four-and-a-half hours," said Karen. The convoy rammed the border gates and drove through under a hail of missiles thrown by angry locals.
In the Gambia the vehicles were auctioned and Dave and Karen's vehicle went for £600.
"It was a scary moment at the border but other than that we did not feel threatened at all, "Karen told the Star. "It was excellent fun and a very interesting trip."
** Karen's picture of some of the rally Ladas is above.