share our journey - how hard can it be? Find out more on how hard it is.....
Richard Gwilliam & Mark Allan, two old school buddies from Hampshire, with a combined age of over 106, have embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. We entered the PandaRaid March 2018 event, a rally starting in Madrid and ending in Marrakesh. Seven nights through the Moroccan landscape in March, temperatures from -7 to +35, through snow, rocks and sand. The only rule for the rally is, it must be completed in a classic Fiat Panda!
Both Richard & Mark work in the IT industry, so the challenge for us was huge; first getting our donor 1991 Fiat panda 4x4 through an MOT, then the modifictions required to withstand the challenge. We are not mechanics but our general approach has been - how hard can it be?
We are both fathers and our children are lucky enough to be loved dearly and they are rarely left wanting for anything. It is very sad that so many children do not have the basics and they often exist in an environment that will supress any aspirations they could have. We feel these children need inspiration and the belief that they can have ambitions and they can fulfill their ambitions - but they need a helping hand..
We decided to embark on this adventure to raise money for a fantastic local charity “Cash for Kids” which helps disabled, disadvantaged and neglected / abused children in the Hampshire area. The entrance fees and car preparation will be funded by the dirver and co-pilot. All donations will go directly to the charity #cashforkids.
We faced many challenges - but we found many helpful folk who have given their time to help us with all aspects of the project. Our special thanks go to our sponsors who have kindly provided their products and services to help make this challenge a reality. The first problem was locating a Fiat Panda - for those of us who remember them, rust was a big problem - so very few indeed have survived. We believe the 350 entrants for the event are likely to be most of the remaining Pandas that have survived around the globe.
Our journey started by obtaining a donor vehicle (1991 Panda 4x4) and preparing it to withstand the rally – most work on the car has been done by us (most weekends for the last 7 months), many new parts were required along with a very steep learning curve, remember neither of us are mechanics. All costs incurred so far, and the cost to parcitipate in the rally are being covered by us personally.
We have had an overwhelming support from our friends, clients and suppliers – with much roll cage and welding from G&R Fabrication and and further welding and a full respray from A&B Motors in Hilsea. We stripped the car and did as much preparation as we could but Al would not let us near the spray paint guns or welding equipment for some reason. You can see the preparation work on the restoration page. We have just fitted Mazda RX8 seats thanks to Silverlake automotive recycling. Then even more welding from our friend vernon at Limited Editions Unlimited. We received interest from local TV and radio, which we will be directing to our new website.
About the Rally
The Panda Raid is a long-distance amateur rally held annually in March. Around three hundred and fifty teams decide to challenge the law of common sense and launch an old school adventure abroard in a Fiat Panda classic. The rally takes place from Madrid in Spain to the West Coast in Morocco through a 7-stage tour designed to test the physical and mental capacities of the teams. Clearly we had to get to the rally start and get home afterwards so the whole event took us 15 days.
Panda Raid loses technology for a week, meaning teams need to rely on the simple compass and a navigation book provided by the organisers. Team intuition and the profile of the stages will set the pace of the participants. The classification process is based on a scoring system that takes into account navigation (having to comply with all checkpoints) and the average speed in some sectors of the stage. The rally route is designed in a progressive way so that less experienced teams can test and develop their skills in the early stages and then advance with knowledge acquired towards the most demanding stages of the rally. Approximately every 50 km there are checkpoints where the stewards note progress. The team cars are fitted with satellite trackers that, through a live tracking system, will allow friends, familly and sponsors to monitor progress through the miles and miles of the Moroccan desert. For a feel of what is involved please look at these pictures from Panda Raid 2013 it tells you the story in pictures.
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