4,000 mile trek for Bobby in Timbuktu race

Bobby Frankham
Bobby Frankham

A Barton Seagrave man is braving the roads of one of the world’s most dangerous regions as part of a 4,000 mile rally to Timbuktu.

Bobby Frankham, 39, and his co-driver Doug McMurdo, left the UK soon after New Year’s Day on a three-week trek to the central African nation of Mali.

The Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu

The Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu

The annual challenge allows teams to spend a maximum of £350 on their vehicle before the start of the route – and teams must donate their cars to the Rotary Club as they near the end.

The route takes drivers through dangerous territory, some of which the Foreign Office warns UK travellers not to visit.

Speaking to the Telegraph before his departure, Mr Frankham said the poor quality of the cars can actually help the travellers pass through some of the dangerous territory unmolested.

He added: “If you were driving an expensive car that would attract a lot of attention.

“On the other hand, a battered Volvo like the one we are taking will not be noticed.”

Mr Frankham’s car is one of about a dozen taking part in the rally.

On Monday, his car had crossed the southern Moroccan border and was in the Western Sahara.

Although the ultimate destination for the drivers is Timbuktu, most of the vehicles will finish their trek at Djenne, in Mali, which is about 200 miles from the finish line.

That is because the rugged terrain around Timbuktu is likely to ruin any of the two-wheel drive cars taking part in the challenge – and also because there have been several recent kidnappings, and one murder, of tourists in Timbuktu.

This is not the first time Mr Frankham has embarked on a challenge to raise money for charity.

Last year, he travelled from John o’ Groats to Land’s End on a 1963 Raleigh moped, which was only capable of 17mph and could not manage to climb any hills.

And in 2011, he drove to The Gambia in a 1998 Lancia Y10 which cost him £100.

Mr Frankham said: “I love cars and I love adventure, so things like this have always appealed to me.

“All the treks I’ve done have been great experiences and the Timbuktu rally was an extension of that.”

For more information about the challenge, visit www.dakarchallenge.co.uk.