A FOUR-DAY cross-country rally through France raised more than £80,000 for an Oxfordshire charity thanks to the efforts of keen petrolheads.
The Twin Town Challenge attracted 50 teams for the 1,000-mile jaunt from Witney to its twin town of Le Touquet, near Calais.
They took in race tracks Brands Hatch, Kent and Le Mans and Criox-en-Ternois in France during the Friday to Monday challenge.
Vehicles had to cost less than £500 and the event is expected to have raised at least £80,000 for Charlbury disability charity SpecialEffect through corporate sponsorship and entry fees.
They also faced 12 challenges like car manoeuvre courses, Aunt Sally tournaments, scavenger hunts and laps around race circuits.
John Haw, from Ramsbury, Wiltshire, spent the weekend dressed as Nintendo video game icon Super Mario with ex-Oxford United player Matthew Bound, now of Swansea, as sidekick Luigi in a red BMW.
Mr Haw said: “It has been a brilliant and completely bonkers rally, people have been stopping us to ask for our photograph. At the racetrack we ragged our car pretty hard but it was amazing, I’ve decided to keep it because I love it so much.”
Deputy mayor of Le Touquet Bernard Baudoux welcomed the drivers at a civic ceremony on Friday.
And the weekend closed on Sunday night with a performance from visiting Stonesfield band The Village Idiots and a fundraising auction.
Lots included a day out behind the scenes at a Formula 1 race and a meal cooked by celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson.
It will be further boosted when teams auction their cars at West Oxfordshire Motor Auctions, Bromag Industrial Estate, Witney, on Thursday evening.
Chief organiser Brendan Cross said: “It has been fantastic on so many fronts.
“We have had a great time at the race tracks and relationships have been formed, but most importantly the generosity of everybody who took part has really shown.
“I am being asked to do it again next year already, and there is talk of taking 100 Minis down to Le Touquet, but I think I need a rest first.”
SpecialEffect founder and chief executive Dr Mick Donegan said cash generated would give the charity an opportunity to meet a rising demand for the services it provides. He said: “We will use the money to buy more equipment and employ more staff.
“Demand for what we do is going up all the time and we have been stretched recently.
“But this will allow us to keep creating those magic moments for people every day.”
- Our top stories:
8:30am Wednesday 1st July 2015
THE number of young people self-harming in the county has risen by more than 100 in a year.
9:21pm Wednesday 1st July 2015
THE Mayor of Wantage tonight said he was "amazed" after a controversial retirement apartments scheme for the town was approved.
5:34pm Wednesday 1st July 2015
A MAN was taken to hospital after a crash between a car and a motorcycle this morning.
5:24pm Wednesday 1st July 2015
Trains have been cancelled on First Great Western services between Oxford and Worcester Shrub Hill due to a broken down train.
5:19pm Wednesday 1st July 2015
TRAFFIC jams are this evening causing delays for bus passengers in Oxfordshire.
3:20pm Wednesday 1st July 2015
THE police helicopter was scrambled into action after a motorist stopped on suspicion of using his phone at the wheel fled from traffic officers.
3:02pm Wednesday 1st July 2015
An internal investigation is under way at South Central Ambulance Service regarding the way it operates its call centre in Bicester.
Drowning confirmed as cause of death of Aown Dogar who was pulled from the Thames near Donnington Bridge
1:34pm Wednesday 1st July 2015
AN INQUEST has been opened this afternoon for 13-year-old Aown Dogar who died last week.
11:05am Wednesday 1st July 2015
A man needed hospital treatment last night after suffering chest and arm injuries at a house in Jericho.
10:58am Wednesday 1st July 2015
SUNBATHERS will need to put on plenty of sun cream in Oxford today as temperatures will hit a maximum of 30 degrees celsius, according to the Met Office.
9:38am Wednesday 1st July 2015
Two cars have been involved in a crash this morning in Marcham near Abingdon.
9:00am Wednesday 1st July 2015
A DRUG dealer has been jailed after he was caught with £29,000 worth of heroin and cocaine.
9:00am Wednesday 1st July 2015
STAFF and pupils from Magdalen College School said they have been overwhelmed by the support of the community after a fire gutted its drama building.