Hornchurch to Timbuktu - in a 17-year-old banger!

IF you were planning a road trip to Timbuktu - a city so remote it holds mythical status as being the backend of nowhere - you’d probably make sure you’d chose a reliable mode of transport.

Not Hornchurch lad David Noakes, 21, and friend Oliver Godfrey, 22, from Essex.

Instead, the two intrepid adventurers are banking on a clapped-out 17-year-old Peugeot 205 - picked up for �200 - to deliver them safely along the 4,800 mile journey.

Known as the Timbuktu Challenge, the journey is a charity bid fraught with danger, and a trip that destroys one-in tree vehicles that undertake it.

The pair - who call themselves the Dirty Dancers - will embark on the three-week journey on Boxing Day, but with no mechanical experience and little yet in the way of food and equipment, David admits the duo may not be fully prepared.

“We decided to do this in October,” he said, “most people take a year to plan it all out, but we’re confident we can do it.

“We are really optimistic; we can’t even start to think we’re not going to make it.”

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He added: “We’ll be in convoy for a lot of it, so we hope other people will help if there are any problems.”

The journey begins from David’s home in Garland Way, continues across Europe, into Morocco, in north Africa, along the Western Sahara, Mauritania, inland to Senegal and finally into Timbuktu – a city in Mali.

David and Oliver will have an armed guard while travelling across Mauritania – a country so dangerous the British Foreign Office warns against visiting it.

David, a ramp agent at Standsted Airport, said: “Our families and girlfriend are frightened for us but we’re planning to stay safe. To be fair, it is a little mad.”

The pair will auction off their car when - or if - they arrive at their destination, with proceeds going to locals.

All money raised from the madcap mission will go to armed forces charity, Help for Heroes.

To donate visit: www.justgiving.com/timbuktu-challenge

For more information on the challenge go to: www.dakarchallenge.co.uk