The outright world record for driving non-stop from Cape Town to London was smashed last night (11 February) by two very daring British drivers and one very reliable Fiat Panda. Adventurers Philip Young and Paul Brace set off on the gruelling 10,000-mile trek on 1 February with the intention of raising money for the charity Farm Africa, and drove relentlessly through 13 countries and two continents in the almost standard Panda.
Arriving at Marble Arch, London the pair registered a time of 10 days, 13 hours and 28 minutes, breaking the previous record for the distance, in either direction, by more than a day.
To complete the trip in their target of under 11 days, Philip and Paul had to average 1,000 miles a day at 40mph, a task they felt confident of completing in their 0.9-litre TwinAir-engined city car. The popular hatchback was showroom specification apart from a few vital modifications, such as extra fuel tank, two spare wheels, sump guards, stronger springs, and an air intake moved to the top of the engine bay.
Shunning the use of a large 4x4 car - Philip and Paul decided that would be "too easy" - the Fiat Panda was chosen for its lightness, performance and fuel economy. And despite the car's compact size, the co-drivers' bed was a cut down foam mattress across the back seat.
The long and tortuous route to Britain included tough, unmade pot-holed roads and treacherous, dry desert tracks through South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia before the pair crossed the Mediterranean for the final run up through Italy and France to London's Hyde Park.
"It has been a remarkable time on the road - exciting and exhilarating - and the Fiat Panda was amazing," says Philip Young. "The roads were treacherous, the heat unbearable and the timetable exhausting, but the car never missed a beat. This was an extremely tough journey, and Fiat can be proud of its reliability and ruggedness."
The Fiat Panda range starts at £8,900 for the 1.2 Pop 8v, rising to £14,950 for the four-wheel-drive Panda 1.3 16v MultiJet 4x4.
Note to Editors:
Farm Africa is a charity working with families in rural Africa, helping them to produce food more effectively. By providing training and support to help farmers improve the way they manage their crops, livestock, forests and access to water, it helps families build a future free from hunger. For more information about Farm Africa please visit www.farmafrica.org