Shropshire couple Keith and Norah Ashworth, owners of Avon Tyres fleet customer Burnt Tree Vehicle Rental, are to tackle the Classic Safari Challenge 2011.The pair will contest a classic 1964 Mercedes-Benz 190 Fintail, shod with Avon rubber, in the event, which runs from August to September.
The event, organised by the Endurance Rally Association, covers more than 3,500 miles of stunning African landscape as it crosses Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa on its mammoth journey.
With the roads expected to provide tough conditions for competitors, cars and tyres, the team has chosen Avon’s Avanza AV4 for the vehicle. Although designed for modern vans, the AV4 is expected to perform well on this terrain on a vehicle of the Mercedes’ size and weight.
Keith Ashworth is looking forward to the experience, which he hopes will be the first of many for him, his wife and the Mercedes.
He said, “It’s an adventure and a practice for [further endurance rallies] New York to Alaska 2012 and Peking to Paris 2013, which I intend to compete in. The main aim is to learn how best to compete in this type of rally and, if all goes well, finish mid-field.”
The Mercedes-Benz 190 is a classic machine that most enthusiasts would never consider running for thousands of miles on rough and dusty African roads, but Ashworth has reasons for his choice.
“I wanted a classic car with a ‘classic look’ and also a car that I could get spares for anywhere in the world in the event of a breakdown,” he explains. “There are always old Mercedes taxis in most countries around the world.
The rally begins in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 15 August and finishes in Cape Town, South Africa, on 6 September.