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New London to Cape Town World Record set by Land Rover Discovery 3

Robert Belcher (Left) & Stephen Cooper  (Right)A British team has set a new world record for driving from London to Cape Town, making the 10,000 mile journey in just 10 days, 3 hours and 16 minutes. Driving a Land Rover Discovery 3, experienced endurance rally drivers Robert Belcher (58) and Stephen Cooper (53) broke the previous record, set in February 2013 by more than 10 hours.

The pair arrived at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town – a landmark start and finish point for this journey – at 0916 SAST on Monday 14 October. They had left London at 0500 GMT on Friday 4 October from the RAC Club on Pall Mall.

The attempt was sponsored by Warranty Direct and raising money and awareness for charity Farm Africa - www.farmafrica.org

On the mammoth drive, the duo came up against heavy rain and thunderstorms in Tunisia, a tense border crossing into Libya following U.S troop activity, a fuel shortage in Egypt and giant potholes in Ethiopia.

In total, Robert and Stephen travelled through 13 countries – England, France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa to reach the southern edge of the African continent.

Their vehicle, a 2005 Land Rover Discovery 3 powered by a 2.7 TDV6 diesel engine, held up to a gruelling schedule of being driven almost 24 hours a day across a variety of terrains including hundreds of miles of bumpy and potholed dirt roads.

Largely unmodified, the Solihull-built 4x4 had been given sump and undercarriage guards, chunkier tyres and four high-intensity lamps mounted on the roof to better prepare it for the tough driving conditions. Extra fuel tanks also provided a range of around 1200 miles between refuelling.

Only one fault developed with the Land Rover during the trip. After hitting a bump in the road, the car’s brake warning light came on, accompanied by a continuous alarm. The fault was cleared after hitting another bump a few hours later!

Driver Robert Belcher said; “What a journey. We’re exhausted but absolutely elated to have broken the record and to have done it so safely and smoothly – if you don’t count the hundreds of miles of potholes through central Africa that is.

Despite the complexities of crossing so many borders we had relatively easy passage through each country and the friendly faces along the way made it all so worthwhile. After seeing changing scenery like we have over the last ten days, and sometimes going hours without seeing another vehicle, I think we will both struggle returning to the morning commute!

We’d also like to say a very special thank you for all the support we’ve received, both before and during the trip and we hope people will continue to show their support for Farm Africa.”

Duncan McClure Fisher, Managing Director at Warranty Direct, said; “When we were first approached for sponsorship for this record attempt and realised that they would be driving a Land Rover we were somewhat sceptical. Our Reliability Index shows the Land Rover Discovery as one of the more unreliable vehicles covered by Warranty Direct and even with the modifications made we remained concerned.

However, the knowledge that previous records had been set in Land Rovers and the opportunity to support a great cause soon outweighed our worries. We are delighted that the guys have broken the record and in a British built vehicle too.”

The first attempt at the mammoth overland drive was undertaken 80 years ago in 1933 in a Morris Eight convertible driven by Brits Cameron Gilg and Walter Kay. The pair took 158 days to navigate a 13,000 mile route which started in Liverpool and included a treacherous crossing of the Sahara desert. Subsequent attempts at setting new records have been achieved on the 30th, 50th and 80th anniversaries of that first run.

Previous record runs from London to Cape Town or Cape Town to London also include:

  • 2010: 11 days, 14 hours and 11 minutes set by Chris Rawlings and Steve MacKenney in a Land Rover Discovery driving from London to Cape Town
  • 1983: 14 days, 19 hours and 26minutes set by Brigadier John Hemsley & his wife Dr. Lucy Hemsley driving a Range Rover V8 driving from Cape Town to London
  • 1963: 13 days, 8 hours and 48 minutes set by Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers in a Ford Cortina driving from London to Cape Town
  • 1933: 158 days. The first small-car to drive from Liverpool to Cape Town was a Morris Eight convertible driven by Cameron Gilg and Walter Kay
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