Plymouth to Dakar rally: On your marks...
Charity rally heads for Africa
The fourth Plymouth-Dakar rally is ready for take off - the first contestants leave Blighty in early December for the six thousand kilometre journey to west Africa.
The challenge is to spend less than £100 on a car and less than £15 on preparing it. Once the budget has been spent simply drive to Gambia (via Morrocco, Mauritania and Senegal) where the cars are all sold for charity. The three week drive takes in a couple of minefields and a three-day drive across the Sahara. A car co-driven by a Reg hack made it to Banjul last year with help from Microsoft UK, The Register, ClassicCarStorage and other generous sponsors.
Taking up the challenge this year are TeamGilaMonsters. They are Matt Leslie, James Monk and Simon Waschkeup, three Oxford graduates and keen Reg readers, who met while working in Chicago at Fermilab's particle accelerator.
They first heard about the rally from reading Register stories about last year's rally. Their vehicle of choice is a 1987 Renault 5 and they are sponsored by Oxford University Software Engineering Dept.
The team are still looking for more corporate sponsors and urgently need a cheap or free welder in the Oxford area to help out with a bit of bodging. More details on their website here.  The intreprid three are setting off on Boxing Day in group two.
But Team GilaMonster are not alone.
The Reg was also contacted by Team Fremen - made up of Chris Eades, Peter Wells and Siobahn Pilkington. The team has already blown the princely sum of £20 on an aged AlfaRomeo 33, which might sound a bit luxurious for this kind of trip but does look suitably tatty in the pictures. The red Alfa has been renamed the Edgewater.
They are setting off on 29 December in group 3. For more details their website is here. 
A final mention to Team Lost Crusade - they're not Register readers but they do live next door to this reporter. Erika Leesing and Ross Edgar are setting off on 19 December in a rather battered Suzuki jeep. They've got a Haynes manual and plenty of optimism. They're raising money for Cancer Research - go here  to contribute. Good luck to all the teams.
More on the rally here.  ®