PAGEANT - "Education is the future"

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Ibrakeforcake is a collective dedicated to the outdoors, the destruction of apathy and the consumption of cake. Their activities include motor-sport, hiking, rock-climbing, surfing and extreme cycling. Two members of this collective, Chris Lawler and Dave Branfield entered the 2007 Plymouth-Banjul Challenge, with an Isuzu Trooper. Chris is a development engineer with previous experience in automotive mechanics and motor-sport, and Dave is a design graduate now working as a studio and freelance photographer. They decided to help Pageant's activities in The Gambia, particularly in Sinchu Baliya.

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The updates are based on emails from the team, and postings on the Ibrakeforcake blog, and are mostly published as received, with very little editing.

The pictures - Most of the pictures were taken by Dave Branfield, and are his copyright.


Ibrakeforcake get their car - Update 19 June 2006 by Dave Branfield   

Well the deed is done, we have a car!!! Saturday was quite an action packed day for Chris and I, travelling up to Nuneaton to see a possibly suitable car, owned by Uli, an interesting sounding German chap. After the usual getting lost trying to read 'streetmap' printouts, we arrived to see a blue LHD Isuzu Trooper parked up on the side of the road and it all felt alarmingly real all of a sudden!

Uli turned out to be a really nice guy who was thoroughly interested in what we were planning on doing, himself being a bit of a vehicle bodger/traveller (having welded an engine to a pushbike in Cairo and then driven it back to Germany, then to the UK!). There were various things wrong with the vehicle, which you'd expect from an 18 year old car, but nothing major. After a good look over and spin round the block which highlighted just how bad the brake pull was (under hard braking, apply lock to 10 O'clock or so, to counter a sticky front calliper!), we were quite satisfied that it had the potential to get us there in one piece. Down to negotiations! Uli very kindly agreed to throw in the workshop manual as a present, brilliant news, even if it is in German, as those puppies cost serious bucks! After a bit of haggling we settled on 500 which included the Tax until December and as the MOT is good until then too, it was a bargain!

Chris drove the beast back down to Steph and my house near Buckingham, before loading up with bikes for Sundays' ride and then headed off to see Rich at Vegantune Motorsport in London (Chris' previous place of work), for the official look-over and some priceless info on desert mods and driving tips. This was my first real experience of driving a left hooker and predictably I reached for the door handle a few times whilst changing gear - generally I was impressed with the high position and how solid it felt. Having driven down to Kingston and out to Bracknell on Sunday, driving back to Buckingham afterwards, the car experienced no more problems, so all is good, with work beginning in earnest in a few weeks time.

Ibrakefrocake's 1988 Isuzu Trooper

.Steff in the Trooper

the Trooper with (L-R) Uli, Dave and Chris

Steff in the Trooper

First Freebie! - Update 26 June 2006 by Dave Branfield

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Well the blagging and borrowing has already begun. I received the first bit of free stuff for the car, kindly donated by my next-door neighbour Malcom, who works for the PR side of Renault F1 and was probably wondering what the hulking great piece of scrap metal was outside the house! Anyway, he passed on a bottle of Motor Max super coolant, that he'd received as a gift from their rep. Lovely! Also on the cards is a borrowed GPS from my soon to be brother-in-law, Guy...

Pageant Meeting - Update 30 June 2006 by Dave Branfield


Chris, with Pippa, Ian and Omar

Chris and I scooted over to have a meeting with the chaps from Pageant last night. We arrived in Surrey to meet the gang, which included Omar, a Gambian teacher from Bakalarr, who is in the UK to observe British teaching methods and generally glean useful information to take back to his school. Chris' mum works for Edison Schools and has arranged for Omar to have a few tours so that he can see how they operate and what their learning units have to offer. We had a brilliant evening, discussing the trip, working out the most useful things to take out with us (I can see a trailer becoming involved at this rate!) and listening to Omar's stories and descriptions of The Gambia.

Chris, with Pippa, Ian and Omar

I now feel as if we've really got things rolling and have realised the extent of what is to come! Thanks again to Pippa and Ian's kind hospitality - the pizza was lovely!

Death of the Cavalier - Update 4 July 2006 by Dave Branfield

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Those that know me will already know of my illustrious career of cars (starting with a mini, when I was 16, which I bought for 70 and proceeded to take apart, never to re-build!). It is therefore with a little tear in my eye that I finally got rid of the Cavalier, donated by my Grandpa when I was at University and sat on my parents' drive for two years after buying the thoroughly sensible Volvo! However, all is not lost... Not only did I have it scrapped for free, but I also managed to salvage some rather useful bits to transfer to the Trooper! I pulled out the front seats as they're just in perfect nick and I couldn't chuck them (not sure if we can make them fit, yet!), but most importantly we now have a booming, desert flattening, Essex-style sound system, with my old 6x9s and head unit! Much jiggery-pokery involved in sussing out the home-made wiring that Uli has put in, but it all works and you can hear it outside the car, so all the kids will look us. Sorted. Have also discovered that the tail light problem was not as simple as first thought as it lies somewhere in the loom, which in some places sits outside the shell and is exposed to the elements!

Goodbye to the Cavalier

The stereo

Goodbye to the Cavalier

The stereo

Launch Party! - Update 9 July 2006 by Dave Branfield & Chris Lawley

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Dave: After finishing work on Friday night, Steph and I bundled our camping gear into the car and set off for the 'official' launch party for the rally, being held in a field in Devon! It was soon established that we'd not brought a map, but hey, who needs maps?! On arriving in Collumpton we discovered, unbelievably, that the local supermarket was shut (it was 10pm), there were no off-licences and we had no beer! However, this soon faded into insignificance as Chris had arrived early and bumped into some fellow Group 1 Swiss boys who'd flown over from Zurich. Being Swiss, they were on the case and far more organised than us, sporting a homemade table, a digital pen-knife and most importantly, a big bottle of Pimms, lemonade and all the correct fruit! This set the scene nicely and we started to put up our tent and say hello to the people that had already arrived.

Chris: Friday night continued with groups of people arriving up until fairly late, my recollection starts to get a little hazy from here on in inverse proportion to the amount of Devon scrumpy. The next thing I'm completely sure about is Saturday morning, whiled away in Exeter generally blundering about. Most importantly we replenished the stock of alcohol and ate brekkie in Woolworths.

General discussion was being had about a sociably acceptable hour to resume drinking when someone wandered past the tent about 12.30 with a can of Fosters which we unanimously decided was a good enough excuse to crack the bar open. With about 8 litres of Number 1 on offer, I think we managed to greet most people in Group 1 with a complementary glass and ended up with a big ole group of people hanging around for the Group 1 leadership 'election'. We modelled the democratic process directly on Monty Pythons Life of Brian, blessed are the meek, blessed be the Pimms, follow the Holy Sheesha etc etc. Seeing as we didn't have anyone called Roger or Roderrick we appeared to decide Fionna was now our leader mainly thanks to her son handing her an important looking file at an opportune moment, nice one Harry.

General scene


General scene


Car surfing

Car surfing

Meeting the Dutch team

General discussion

Meeting the Dutch team and other discussions

Webmaster's comment - Ibrakeforcake and IceCold teams were obviously at the same launch party. It is interesting to compare their descriptions of the event. see IceCold description

Sponsorship - Update 10 July 2006 by Dave Branfield

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Chris and I would like to say a big thank you to Gav Wren at Blue Dot Display for supporting team IBFC in the sticker department. I went to Uni with Gav and recently badgered him for some graphics sponsorship for the car. Luckily for us, he's a top bloke and has agreed to supply the stickers for the techni-coloured visual assault that will be the Trooper, in a few weeks time once she's re-painted... Once again, many thanks and please visit the company at the URL above.

Pageant's 'Meet Omar' day - Update 11 July 2006 by Chris Lawler


On the way back from the launch party, still feeling slightly funky, I stopped in at Pippa and Ian's for their 'Meet Omar day'. They had some of their members round and were keen for me to talk to people about the Banjul Challenge. I spoke to Omar about his visit to the Edison supported schools which he genuinely enjoyed, being pleasantly surprised by the level of interest and questions that the pupils had for him. Thanks to Jonathon Miller at Edison for organising what sounded like a pretty packed day for Omar.

I also met Kemo, Pageant's representative in Gambia and spoke to him for a while about the kind of things that Pageant are doing and he was really keen to show Dave and myself round when we're in Gambia. We also have his number in case of logistical hiccups at the Senegalese/Gambian Border.

At some point soon we'll be publishing lists of car related equipment that we are looking to 'acquire' before we leave, and which will be auctioned off with the vehicle, and also a breakdown of our costs and donations. However as an item that is highly prized in Gambia and is easy to transport, we're looking for old mobile phones, those bricks you've got sitting in a drawer somewhere 'just in case'. We want them! Chargers would be good but it's not essential. Solar panels are also really high on the wish list, not that anyone is going to have any lying around, but a contact would be useful if anyone's parents relatives or partners etc have any connection with the industry.

One of the Pageant members, a German lady whose name has unfortunately escaped me due almost entirely to a complete lack of sleep Saturday night, has raised the possibility of a GPS unit and possibly satellite phone donation from the company she works for, which would be seriously helpful.

Read more about the Meet Omar day.

Pre-Press Release - Update 14 September 2006 by Chris Lawler

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Things have got moving again on the car front after a summer of flying around on our bikes and it is being de-decalled and prepped ready for paint. Many thanks to Frank at Brewers paint store in MK who has kindly donated the paint for the beast and Darren my Director of Photography who has allowed us the use of one of our studio warehousing units to paint her up in... More photos to come after the weekend.

Filthy blondie, Gav Wren is also on the case with the first set of vinyl stickers to adorn the Trooper in its new livery. Many thanks to him too, as he is in the process of setting up a new graphics company of his own and is rushed off his feet. Knowing Gav, It'll be a successful venture too. Good luck mate!

Ed the croc joins the team - Update 15 September from the Ibrakeforcake blog

Ed in mid lunge

Ibrakeforcake member Chris Lawler is glad to be alive after a 71cm fluffy crocodile launched a vicious and unprovoked attack shortly after 10.00am this morning. In a further bizarre twist, the wily reptile was later captured and tamed using techniques developed by the late Steve Irwin, that included a stern talking to and good behaviour rewards of yesterday's office doughnuts, that wouldn't go soft even when dipped in coffee.

Ed the crocodile is going with the Ibrakeforcake team to his homeland in The Gambia. He will have lots of adventures which will be followed by children in UK schools linked with Sinchu Baliya. Crocodiles are highly revered in The Gambia, and every Gambian child knows all about them. They are usually called Charlie, so Ed is obviously something special!

Ed the croc in mid lunge


What's that coming over the hill, is it a MONSTER?!!
 - Update 17 September 2006 by Dave Branfield

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the Trooper having its paint job

Wow. What a weekend, I seem to have barely stopped! Disregarding the glorious weather and not going for a ride, Chris and I have been really busy this weekend up in MK and the Trooper has been thoroughly seen to. I stripped the decals during the week, it was then washed, de-greased, sanded and finally given two coats of Brewers finest yellow gloss, loosely colour matched to De-Walt yellow. Its been a long slog, but it looks unbelievably good and better than either of us expected. We've done a timelapse progress photo-montage which I'll get up as an animated .GIF at some point with some pictures of the finished article! Ed the crock was instrumental with the brush, as was Steffi who came and did all the fiddly things our fat bloke fingers couldn't get to. Proper chic, I tell thee.

the Trooper having its paint job

Trooper resplendent in its new paint
 - Update 19 September 2006 by Chris Lawler


Desert rat Lawler points the way from the Trooper roof

Ladies and Gentleman
Presenting Ibrakeforcake's Plymouth to Banjul Challenge Vehicle.

I don't think anything else needs to be said, it's yellow, Ed likes it and it the whole world is gonna see us coming, Hooyah.

Ed takes his position on the Trooper

Ed tries out the car

the Trooper in its new paint

Trooper visits Vegantune for a check up
- Update 3 October 2006 by Chris Lawler

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Dave and myself have been up to Vegantune to give the Trooper the visual once over and get a handle on what's hot and what's not before I have some time off in the week beginning the 16th October to actually carry out the work proper. Thanks to Gary, now next door to Vegantune at Wild Horses Racing, for some appliance of pry bar and a vast amount of experience where necessary.

Chris and Dave at Vegantune

Ed the croc considers alternative transport

Chris and Dave at Vegantune

Ed the croc considers alternative transport

Anti bonnet mishap device

Minor Works Carried Out:

  • Fit bonnet pins and catch as the original catch is broken.

  • Re-wire RH rear light cluster as the side light wasn't working.

  • Topped up and checked engine and transmission oil.

  • Battery terminals replaced.

  • Battery refitted properly.

  • Air filter is horribly clogged.

  • More stickers!!

<< Anti bonnet mishap device

 no trip would be complete without cake

Results of a stern looking at:

  • Front pads and unfortunately disc are completely NFG.

  • RH front calliper is very, very sticky.

  • Front lower ball joints, excessive play. Need replacing.

  • Rear live axle diff drive very loose

<<  no trip would be complete without...

I am now on the look out for a local motor factor who might be willing to help us out with some if not all of the parts we need including a roof rack. Next up, pilfering visit to the local scrappy to look for interesting bits, mainly spot lamps.

SPONSOR US NOW! - Update 6 October 2006 Dave Branfield

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Sponsorship form

The IBFC Publicity Brigade have been whipped into action and I have before me another graphical masterpiece that any 70s Disco-Night promoters would be proud of. Chris and I will be brandishing these pieces of A4 wherever we go now and as you stare in disbelief at the cutting edge visuals, we'll be right there harassing you for as much money as you've got!! Three people have already fallen foul of the charm offensive - Many thanks to Sam, Ruth and Pippa who've donated 45 already! Spot on. Seriously, we need to raise around 4000 before our Dec 16th departure date, so give whatever you can, its much appreciated. I'm giving one to Gav for his office, with the promise that if he fills it up, we'll send in a special IBFC cake for their trouble! GET INVOLVED PEOPLE!!!! There is a Donate Button at the bottom of this page.

Knee Update - 11 October 2006 Dave Branfield


Regular readers of the Ibrakeforcake blog will know that I partially dislocated my knee while climbing at the end of September. I have just been told that I have torn the meniscus cartilage, and may need keyhole surgery. This is obviously inconvenient with just 9 weeks to go before blast off. Anyone who wants the full gory details should check the Ibrakeforcake blog.

On the up side, Chris is embedded and making a nuisance of himself at Vegantune and should be doing some updates on the car fixing scenario. The 'One Woman Army' that is my mother, has started fundraising for us with typical gusto and an early report states that 20 has been raised so far at her end. Watch out good people of Wormingford and Colchester! Thanks Mum, we are now looking at a 65 total and I haven't started properly yet for obvious reasons!

Vegantune Ramblings update 30 October 2006

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Chris Lawler has put a whole lot of technical stuff on the Ibrakeforcake blog, about the week he spent at Vegantune working on the Trooper. Click this link to read the whole thing. Work was carried out on the brakes, front hubs, front lower ball joint, rear diff/propshaft and the engine. Chris estimates that the total cost including parts, labour and VAT would have been 3795, but thanks to Vegantune, Crazy Horses Racing and Simon at Jet and Helicopter he came away having spent just 38.

More Stickers Please update 30 October 2006 by Chris Lawler


Nocturnal gathering of Ibrakeforcake & the Trooper

Having given the Trooper a new paint job we are now desperately trying to cover it up with sponsorship logos. We are looking for a further cash sponsor to help get the Trooper down to The Gambia. Please help or get in touch if you know someone or a company which can help!!

<< Nocturnal gathering of Ibrakeforcake with the
      Trooper in the woods.

Something to do with Halloween?

Clunking Sounds... update 1 November 2006


Chris and Dave have had further discussions about the Trooper's differential which makes some grumbling clunky noises when during turns. Vegantune's advice was that old diffs clunk, particularly if the wheels/tyres are different from the standard size. Hopefully they won't find out the answer in the middle of the Sahara. Anyone out there with experience of clunking diffs please get in touch.  Click this link to read the full post on the Ibrakeforcake blog.

Update 30 November 2006

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On the left below, Ed the Croc is admiring one of the stickers from Crazy Horses Racing, who helped enormously with the major refit to the car.

Ed admires the Crazy Horses Racing sticker

the roof rack and fuel cans

Ed admires the Crazy Horses Racing sticker

the roof rack and fuel cans

Ibrakeforcake now own a sparkling, shiny galvanised steel roof rack VERY kindly donated by Richard Grant, a freelance set builder/model maker. Rich is a top bloke and very good at all sorts of carpentry and building projects and film work. See his website

Dave reports: "Financial sponsorship is finally kicking into action with Chris and I taking around 250 each from our work/friends/small children that we held upside down and shook... Our parents have been roped in, in various ways to raise money/kit too. Well done them. Other important news is that Steph is making us a Crimbo cake to take away and eat in a carpark in Morrocco somewhere. Lovely. We still have car seats, camping stuff and roof rack to sort, various bits of outstanding paperwork, Oh, and the route to plan! Chris will be doing a tour of Edison Schools next Friday and then it really will be pack up and go..."

Best laid plans - update 4 December by Chris Lawler

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Me and Davros the 'no longer unready' finally got round to forming what could be passed as something approaching a plan at the weekend.

Press any key to continue. Doh, where's the 'Any Key'

here, here and ....... how far!!!

Press any key to continue.
Doh, where's the 'Any Key'

here, here and ....... how far!!!

We've sorted out our travels day by day until Agadir in Southern Morocco, after that we're governed by making the Mauritanian border in time to meet up with everyone and head off into the dessert. All of the following is completely subject to change depending how we get on and how badly we get distracted by cool stuff on route! having said that our itinerary so far looks something like this:

  • Sunday 17th Brighton to Hyde Park to Calais to Bergerac !!!

  • Monday 18th Arrive Bergerac and recover!!

  • Tuesday 19th Leave Bergerac over the Pyrenees to somewhere in Northern Spain near Zaragoza, stopping when we've had enough

  • Wednesday 20th Zaragoza to Madrid and a night in an Ibis hotel and city shenanigans

  • Thursday 21st Leave Madrid, arrive Gibraltar to claim our pre-booked accommodation and meet up with the rest of the teams

  • Friday 22nd Recover from Thursday and general R&R day

  • Saturday 23rd Leave Gibraltar by ferry for Morocco, not expecting to get far by the time we've negotiated out first African border. Stopping around Fes when we've had enough or find somewhere interesting to stay.

  • Christmas eve 24th Arrive Marrakech for two days with few other teams

  • Christmas day 25th Day in Marrakech doing touristy stuff

  • Boxing day 26th Leave Marakech for Agadir via the Tiz n Test mountain pass stay in Agadir

  • Wednesday 27th Leave Agadir into the dessert, still on road, to Daklar

  • Thursday 28th Daklar to Nouadibou to re-group pre desert operation

  • Friday 29th Into the desert for real.

From this point on all bets are off and, although we pretty much are anyway, we'll be taking each day as it comes. We still need to make a certain amount of progress each day but it's such an unknown we're not bothering to plan on being anywhere at any given time in between the various towns and borders. Will try and get some Google earth links to some of the desert way points or similar.

All the mod cons - update 5 December by Chris Lawler

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.......Like seats that don't try and rattle the fillings out of your head every time a sparrow sneezes at 400 yards in the direction of the trooper or that require you to drive whilst performing a complex variation on the lotus position whilst temporarily dislocating the 5th an 6th vertebrae to accommodate the solid acute angled back support mid spine. In short the old seats were not exactly comfortable. Fortunately Dave salvaged the 'seats' (read armchairs) from the Cavalier which have been duly fitted, not sure if its the comfort level or the provenance in general but sitting in them provokes an instant craving for a pipe, slippers and the Sunday papers probably followed by a nice afternoon nap, which is fine just not on the N21 10hrs south of Calais! They are sooooooo comfortable, best mod to the car yet!!!

New seat in innit. Can you spot Ed?!

New seat in innit. Can you spot Ed?!

"We go on Sunday!!!"


It's the last week before departure, and Chris, Dave, Ed and the car are almost ready to go. They have raised nearly 3000 in donations and sponsorship, but at this point getting to The Gambia is more important than accurate accounts. They will be stopping by at Ian and Pippa's before they go on Sunday 17 December, to pick up some educational resources, which they will be taking out to Sinchu Baliya. 

Chris & Ed doing a final check on the car

educational materials for Sinchu Baliya

Chris & Ed doing a final check on the car

educational materials for Sinchu Baliya

The Journey

Quick visit to Ian & Pippa

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Chris and Dave (plus Ed) dropped by at Ian and Pippa's house on Saturday 16 December to pick up educational supplies for Sinchu Baliya. They are now on their way to The Gambia, and they will try to post daily updates on their blog. We will copy these onto this page as quickly as possible.

Pippa, Chris, Ian and Dave outside Ian & Pippa's house

Dave Ed and Chris

Pippa, Chris, Ian and Dave outside
Ian & Pippa's house

Dave, Ed and Chris

The Send-off from Hyde Park - update 17 December by Gav

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An early start for the friends and family of our intrepid Ibrakeforcake rally team as we gathered on an amazing Winters Morning in Hyde Park.

In typical Gav style I had a phone with no charge but had had the foresight before the previous evenings drinks to formulate some sort of plan! Off we trotted to find both Monsieur Lawler and Senor Branfield looking surprisingly chirpy and excitable as you would be knowing or maybe not knowing what the next three weeks were all about!

Ibrakeforcake leaving Hyde Park

In true bodge-it style the roof rack was on and strapped down with all the essentials our team needs for a challenging 3 week rally...yup a spare wheel and their surfboards! Fear not I did overhear a conversation in which Chris reassured someone they were organised and had spares etc...I'm not saying anything, checked your passport this time Chris?

So good luck to the chaps, we will be utilising all the latest technologies to keep you all updated of their progress. We wish them safe travels and a superb Christmas. I am not quite sure how either of them will cope without the turkey, maybe they have a secret plan? Although looking at them in this photo I'm not convinced! Good Luck Dave and Chris spreading the IBFC name across the lands.

leaving Hyde Park

Hyde Park to Bergerac - update 18 December by Gav, Dave and Chris

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Our first update from the boys in France! Following a drive all through the night, Chris and Dave rocked up in Bergerac [map] at 8am, to stay with Chris's friend Ian who happens to own a lovely barn, (available to hire) and get a well earned rest after driving 20 hours of the first 24 of the rally!

 Dave writes:-

OK. Thanks Gav. What a 36 hours that was. We have arrived 'safely' in Bergerac and are staying with Annabelle and Ian at their lovely little pile and are slowly regaining our sanity! Sunday was a bit of a blur as we'd got up around 7am after a meal out to say goodbye to Steffi and Kate in Brighton. A little hung-over and it was off up to London for the official Start Line in Hyde Park. In keeping with the general theme of disorganisation, the launch was hectic, great fun seeing everyone's pimped out cars and we managed to leave without everyone after getting confused about what was supposed to be happening! Massive thanks to everyone that showed up, it was wicked to see you all!

Ian's barn in Bergerac

Ian's barn

Off to the ferry for 3:30pm and we were feeling quite sorted at this point and following Via Michelin directions were steaming south. It all started to go wrong about 2am when the fog set in. May I just say that it was FOG not just wispy UK fog and we were in it for around the next six hours! The 15ft of visibility meant that you had to stay 100% concentrated all the time which was increasingly hard the more tired you were. After a brief nap at 3am, things really started to go crazy at about 4am when the gearbox started to make a catching, intermittent whining sound in fifth gear. Bugger. This continued and coupled with our tiredness, started to make us go completely paranoid and we narrowed it down to main drive bearing or one of the gearbox bearings/cogs/synchromesh/dog clutch... Anyway, we pulled over and checked the transmission oil level. Fine. Went 100m and then checked the engine oil level - not much. We topped up the engine oil, I stood in the oil and covered my shoes, then got in to drive and realised that I couldn't operate the pedals as I was slipping off! Doh! Drove in sock for an hour whilst Chris wiped my shoe clean. By now complete exhaustion, the Limoges effect (when Limoges is signposted as 20km for what seems like three hours without getting any closer) and complete runaway paranoia about the gearbox meant we were gibbering wrecks, with one driving, the other pointing out useful facts like bends in the road and that you've got your wipers on full blast in dry air... We arrived at 8am and let ourselves in and both couldn't wind down enough to sleep for half an hour...

Chris adds:

Alarm woke the pair of us at 11 despite wishing we could sleep for about another day. Personally it took me about 2 hours and a shower before I was anywhere operating at full capacity. Lunch lunched and we drove up to see a mechanic Ian knows, turned out he'd had more than his fair share of prepping 4x4s for the desert. Having arched his eyebrows at the wagon he offered to try and track down another gearbox tomorrow, loosen all the retaining bolts and show us how the box would come out should the need arise.

Chris and I and Ian, dropping the oil and worrying a lot about 5th gear, in Bergerac

We dropped the gearbox oil and found the inevitable glimmer of bearing material followed by shards of wear debris left behind in the drop tray, in short. Either 5th gear or one of the main shaft bearings is wearing rapidly. We're hoping it's only fifth and it's not that rapid!!! Tomorrow we will see if matey has found another box and will top up on relevant lube and bowser so I don't have to have another bath in the bloody stuff!

If this was going to happen on the rally this is probably the best place aside from spitting distance from the finish line, somewhat aggrieved it couldn't play silly buggers a month ago so could rectify with the help of glorious leader and Gary but 'what can you do', beer calls.

dropping the oil and worrying a lot
about 5th gear in Bergerac

Days of oil lives - update 19 December by Chris Lawler

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Having gotten totally covered in gear oil, we have refilled the Trooper's gearbox and are planning to leave Bergerac at about 12.30pm, about 3 hours behind our schedule. AA European Cover has been purchased and we are taking an easier route over the Pyrenees. Hopefully we'll be in touch tonight to say we made Spain!!

Hola amigos  - update 21 December by Gav


The guys arrived safely in Madrid [map] last night after a long drive through Spain and a night sleeping in the car. A little game of football to relax in which Dave managed to hurt his shoulder. Fantastic scenery of which I'm sure senor Branfield will be taking lots of proper photos of which we will upload and publish on their return from Da Gambia, innit.

The Trooper is struggling on but is still stripping gearbox in 5th gear. Following a brief conversation I managed to contact the best breakers yard in Gibraltar who claim to have a spare trooper gearbox which Chris and Dave will hopefully go and look at today. The budget is tight and if possible they will replace the whole gearbox, good job Chris knows his stuff, I wouldn't want to tackle that job on the road! If the entire replacement is not possible they may just replace the 5th gear...we'll keep you posted!  Enjoy your trip to the rock chaps!

Lunch in Spain >>

Lunch in Spain, now resigned to use just 4th gear

In Morocco - update 27 December by Gav

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The road to Marrakech

Firstly, someone stole Gav's mobile phone, so several messages sent by the team for the ir blog have gone missing. However, there was a message from Team Willy Maykit on the PBC field reports system that Ibrakeforcake was with them at Sale near Rabat on 23 December. A message got through to Gav, probably sent on Christmas Day, to say that Ibrakeforcake had left Marrakech (MK was initially translated as Milton Keynes, and then Meknes) the previous day "with the Atlas mountains looming in the distance and they do look 'bleedin' high." They are on the road with a convoy of at least 8 cars, heading for  Sidi Ifni [map] to camp for the Night.

The road to Marrakech

High in the Hills - update 28 December by Steph


To recap the missing messages - The boys spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Marrakech [map] sampling interesting foods and fighting off the market traders, but I am assured they have got some bargains. Dave marvelled at the number of donkeys and as it was The Festival of the Lamb, or some such, there were sheep and lambs everywhere, on mopeds, in the streets, in houses...

On Boxing Day they successfully navigated the Atlas Mountains over the Tiz-n-Test pass with scenery "to die for" with the weather hotting up and on to Agadir [map]. Generally both boys are in very high spirits and are really enjoying their adventure.

the Tiz-n-Test pass in the Altas Mountains

the Tiz-n-Test pass

You can see pictures of the route through Morocco, taken last year by Team Shap Ahoy, on this page.

Sahara time! - update 28 December by Steph

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camping in the desert

the road to Dakhla

camping in the desert

the road to Dakhla

Got a very quick but informative call this morning. They had left Laayoune [map] and headed into the Western Sahara travelling with two Australian bikers. They are stopped fairly regularly by military check points but all is well and they've had no problems with the locals! The car started rattling and they had got sand in the air inlet, so with a pair of tights securely in place they were off again and are now heading towards Dakhla [map] only a few miles north of the Tropic of Cancer. The weather has got hot and even at night it's mild (not that they know as it seems the lure of hotels is winning over the camping plans!).

Through the desert from the Edison Schools website


along the beach on the way out of the desert


along the beach on the way out of the desert


We have emerged from our 150-mile, 5-day trek across the Sahara desert! We're now in Senegal and expect to arrive in Banjul by Saturday/Sunday. Our dodgy gearbox held out in the tough conditions, but we have to do running repairs on the fuel pump. Some great news: British Oxygen have agreed to match all donations we receive from other donors, so please give something towards our target of 4,000. Your contribution will be worth double!

Arrived in Banjul

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Chris Lawler phoned Pippa to say he had already met up with Kemo and would take the various items to the recipients on Tuesday. Following that they are heading up-country, hoping for some exciting photographic sessions over a couple of days, including hippos.

Dave and Chris with Kemo >>

Note the gravity fed fuel supply (plastic container on the roof rack). This was rigged up after the electric fuel pump failed

Dave and Chris with Kemo, note the gravity fed fuel supply  rigged up after the fuel pump failed

In Banjul - a late update! from the Ibrakeforcake blog


aboard the Bara ferry after about 10 hours stress, hassle and fun!

Sorry if you all thought something terrible had happened, it hasn't, well not before I last spoke to them yesterday evening. They have had an eventful week, nearly getting lost in the dessert, dodgy guide, pot holes the size of the trooper, dead donkeys, holding areas, kids trying to nick stuff, locked keys in the car and holding up lots of angry ferry passengers which resulted in the trooper being lifted out the way and shaking hands with a crocodile (do crocodiles have hands?)! By and large your average day in Milton Keynes. Anyway they are safely in The Gambia, Dave sounds like he's had an amazing time, they're off to see hippos tomorrow and are set to come home on Friday.

aboard the Bara ferry after about
10 hours stress, hassle and fun!

Visit to Sinchu Baliya Lower Basic School

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Ibrakeforcake visited Sinchu Baliya LBS, and were welcomed by the staff and children. They were accompanied by Pageant's agents Kemo and Alimatou.

arriving at Sinchu Baliya LBS

Dave and Alimatou walking in behind the car

arriving at Sinchu Baliya school

Dave and Alimatou walking in behind the car

A welcome song accompanied by drumming

a welcome from the school Scout Troop

a welcome song accompanied by drumming
(on the plastic gallon containers)

a welcome from the school Scout Troop

Boys inspecting the car

Chris & Kemo with two of the many footballs

 boys inspecting the car

Chris & Kemo with two of the many footballs

Chris, Dave and Ed with the headmaster

being shown into the Resource Centre

Chris, Dave (and Ed) with the headmaster

being shown into the Resource Centre

the library at the Resource Centre

the school garden

the library at the Resource Centre

the school garden

Back in Blighty - update 16 January by Chris

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We have arrived home, a little more smelly, tired and weary. Lots of piccies and stories to tell which will go up on the blog when they're sorted! (keep your eyes on the blog!) Thanks to everyone who helped us get the car and equipment ready for The Gambia and the people who sponsored us to get the car there.

Kemo with Ed the croc

We met up with Kemo Ceesay, our PAGEANT contact and donated the materials to Sinchu Baliya school, amid one of the warmest receptions I have ever experienced. Really great to see the kids there and how outside help is changing their school environment.

<< Kemo with Ed the Croc

We were also fortunate to visit Bansang Hospital, up country, with the Los Perros Locos boys, who'd arranged to donate their car as an ambulance and donate some medical supplies. This also gave us an opportunity to give over the medical stuff that we'd bought. Another amazing welcome, with more local dancing and a detailed four hour tour of the Hospital's facilities (or lack of them). Quite an experience and great to see the impact that Anita Smith has been able to make there.
Bansang Hospital appeal)

A massive thanks to all the people who helped us along the way - too many to mention in detail, but you know who you are!

and Finally


The third charity auction of 18 vehicles was held at the Safari Garden Hotel, Banjul on 28 January, and raised over 15,000. (see full auction results) Ibrakeforcake's Isuzu Trooper sold for 39,000 Dalasis (about 700).

More Ibrakeforcake and Plymouth-Banjul Information


The Plymouth-Banjul Challenge started in 2003 as an ironic tribute to the Paris-Dakar Rally. Instead of highly expensive cars driven by world class rally drivers, with large back-up teams, this challenge consists of small teams on strictly limited budgets, and at the end of the challenge, the cars are auctioned for the benefit of local good causes. For further information, and news of other teams, see our 2007 Challenge Page.

More information about Ibrakeforcake can be found at several other web locations

IBFC General Website covers all activities of the Irakeforcake  collective.
IBFC Challenge Blog dedicated to the Plymouth-Banjul Challenge.
IBFC on Flickr all the photos! - PBC and others
IBFC on Edison Schools site mainly for schools, children & teachers

Pageant is a UK Charity - Registered No 1093963

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