A teenager from Wilbarston has joined two friends on a 10,000 mile charity drive through 20 countries.
Ben Lovell, 19, from Wilbarston, and team-mates Rory Langan, 18, from Kibworth, near Leicester, and Andy Bichan, 19, from Stamford are taking part in the gruelling Mongol Rally.
The teenage trio, all former pupils at Stamford School, set off from Battersea Park in London on Sunday to drive to Ulan Bator in Mongolia to raise money for the charity Clic Sargent which supports children and teenagers being treated for cancer and leukaemia.
Rory said: “All three of us know people our own age suffering very serious illnesses who have been helped by this fantastic charity.
“We had been talking about entering a rally in Britain, but then Andy heard about the Mongol Rally and we liked the sound of that.
“It seemed such a huge challenge and one that appealed to us in our gap year before going to university.”
One stipulation is that teams have to tackle the rally in a car with an engine not larger than 1000cc.
Rory said: “We bought a 1997 VW Polo on eBay for £500. It has 65,000 miles on the clock and has seen better days.”
The rally should take between three and five weeks and take the trio through 20 countries, including Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia and Uzbekistan.
Rory said: “There is very challenging terrain along the way – the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan is one of the driest and hottest places on the planet.
“Crossing the Caspian Sea is another big hurdle. Ferries are irregular and crossings have been known to take 96 hours, even though the sea is not much wider than the English channel.
“The ships are ex-Soviet cargo ships which have been known to go down with all hands on board.”
The friends have undergone months of planning, filling in complicated visa applications, learning mechanical skills to cope with a breakdown in the middle of nowhere and Ben has been brushing up his A-level Russian.
Rory said: “Andy, Ben and I decided to combine the adventure of a lifetime with going flat out to raise funds for Clic Sargent.
“We hope people will support us through our justgiving page.
“We thank people in advance on behalf of the very sick children and teenagers.”
To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/ kccmongolrally