The menacing whistle of a turbo charged engine broke the early morning quiet at Southampton yesterday, but this was no marine diesel starting up on the pontoons. While others were busy cleaning the dew of their boats Ben Metcalfe from Princess dealer Landau was showing off the car he plans to race in the 2009 Dakar Rally. Actually the term ‘car’ is quite wide of the mark. This is a highly specialised desert-conquering machine built by Rally Raid and (very) roughly based on a Land Rover Freelander. It’s got the Land Rover’s front grill, gearbox and axles but otherwise it’s about as specialised as it gets. Built around a tubular space frame and powered by a BMW engine this £100,000 truck will hit 140mph and can cover 1000miles on a singe tank. Onboard kit includes independent hydraulic jacks for fast wheel changes and monster air-cooled shock absorbers to take the extreme terrain. Keeping Ben going in the right direction will be a Terra Trip rally system, GPS, a co-pilot, full support team and, one presumes, lots of luck.
Our man from Princess is clearly fully committed to the race, he’s off testing in Morocco next year and plans to work his honeymoon into the trip. Good luck then Ben, on both counts..