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Halfway around the world in 10 days: Britons break world’s driving record •Drive 10,300 miles from Cape Town to London

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Two British adventurers, on Tuesday night, celebrated a great feat which fetched them two world records, as they drove 10,300 miles from Cape Town to London in 10-and-a-half days.
The duo, Philip Young and Paul Brace, made the trip three days earlier the previous record for the route.

At exactly 5.30 p.m. Tuesday,  Young and Brace crossed the finishing line at Marble Arch at just 10 days, 13 hours and 30 minutes after they set off from the South African city.

Not only did the pair tore up the existing record, they also set the fastest time for doing the journey in either direction, beating a previous best set by Brits Mac and Steve MacKenney and Chris Rawlings, who, in 2010, drove from London to Cape Town.

Young and Brace drove 43mph on the average along the route and covered more than 1,000 miles per day in a Fiat Panda.

Young, 53, chariman of United Kingdom’s Endurance Rally Association, speaking on their journey said: “The thought of reaching Marble Arch has kept us going rather than falling asleep from exhaustion.

Young, from Deal in Kent, and Brace, a car restorer from Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, said during the almost 11 days journey, they faced tropical thunderstorms, river crossings and desert tracks.

They had been taking turns to drive while the other ate food from Army-issue self-heating cans and tried to grab some rest on a child’s mattress laid across the back seat.

The only tools they said they took along to keep the car on the road were an adjustable spanner and a hammer along with a roll of gaffer tape and a tin of superglue.

This year is the 80th anniversary of the first attempt to drive from London to Cape Town in a Morris Eight, a drive that took five months.

Since then, many have tried to set the fastest time in vehicles ranging from a Wolseley 18/85, Austin A70, Hillman Minx, Humber Super Snipe and Ford Cortina.

The previous record for the Cape Town to London route stood at 14 days, 19 hours and 26 minutes and was set by British Army officer, Brigadier John Hemsley and his wife, Lucy, in 1983 - in a Range Rover V8.

The record for completing the trek in the opposite direction stood at 11 days, 14 hours and 11 minutes.

Young, speaking more about the trip, said: “The best part of the whole trip is getting to London and knowing we have succeeded in our ambition and that nine months of planning has worked.

“The trip has been a real eye-opener.

“It has been one hell of an experience, tough and, at times, extremely gruelling.

“We have been effectively living in the car. Pretty much the only times we got out were for fuel stops and borders.

“But we have got no regrets about the Panda as a choice of car.

“It is one of the smallest cars you could possibly buy on the British market but it has been perfect, nippy and powerful enough to do the job of crossing two continents.

“On Sunday night, we had a big diversion up the right side of Italy because of snow. We have had just about every extreme along the way you could imagine.

“But we have had a terrific amount of attention wherever we have gone with locals travelling halfway across their country to cheer us on.”

Young and Brace drove over 13 countries, including some of the world’s most volatile, in two continents and their £7,000 Panda became the first car to cross from Sudan into Egypt over a new land frontier.

The duo also passed through Libya, not minding the fact that the country’s borders are officially closed to foreigners, but the Syrian uprising forced them to take a ferry from Tunisian capital, Tunis to Sicily over the weekend.

Likewise, a combination of snow in southern Italy a delayed Eurotunnel train and rush hour traffic in London couldn’t stop them writing their name into the record books.

Raising more than £10,000 for the Farm Africa charity, which helps African farmers increase their harvest in a bid to tackle food shortages, Young and Brace also passed through Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan among other countries.  

Young said the hardest part of the trip was a stretch in northern Kenya, near the town of Marsabit, known as the “Road to Mars.”

It runs through a desert, where the track disapears in places and is littered with huge potholes in others.

“We had a long night picking our way through boulders the size of football.’

But the biggest eye-opener was the Libyan city of Misrata, scene of the bloodiest fighting during the revolution that toppled Colonel Gaddafi in 2011.

Philip added: ‘We were driving around the streets at night with road checks every 500 yards or less.

‘There were kids everywhere roaming around in pick-up trucks with machine guns.

‘That was quite an experience.’

Describing their arrival at the Libyan border on the pair’s blog, Young wrote: “We have shaken hands with our new team, an armed guard will lead us, another armed guard will follow.

“Nobody seems at all bothered by the Union Jack across the front of the Panda...

“A chilling reminder of Libya’s recent past, as we waited for stamps in our passports, there were three muffled explosions.

“We ask the obvious question and back came the reply with a casual shrug of the shoulders - “People with no visas risk walking around the outside of the walls here, setting off land-mines’.

“Nobody left the queue in the shabby passport office to go and look.

“Suddenly, our passports are back all approved and we are on the move passing through a rusty gate.

“We are now driving into Libya, when plenty warned us it would prove to be a border too far, an immovable anvil which would see the hammer come down on our nine months of planning.”

Young said in Ethiopia, they almost suffered their worst nightmare when they came close to running out of petrol because of a national shortage.

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