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:
7:43am Saturday 31st January 2015
IT'S been snowing overnight in Oxfordshire and here's some of the pictures our readers have sent in.
9:00am Saturday 31st January 2015
THE POPPY Appeal’s fundraising target has been smashed in the county.
3:17pm Saturday 31st January 2015
THREE men have been arrested after a man was left with "serious injuries," police say.
1:20pm Saturday 31st January 2015
A British military healthcare worker has been brought back to England for Ebola monitoring after suffering a needle-stick injury while treating a person in Sierra Leone.
9:30am Saturday 31st January 2015
Danny Hylton has warned Oxford United will get “eaten alive” at Stevenage today unless they match their hosts’ appetite for a battle.
8:30am Saturday 31st January 2015
BUILDERS and Oxford University dons have celebrated “topping out” one of Oxford’s newest and most prominent buildings.
8:30am Saturday 31st January 2015
OXFORDSHIRE’s biggest local authority is to scrap its top unelected position as part of a radical shake-up to save costs.
8:00am Saturday 31st January 2015
MINISTER Penny Mordaunt toured burned-out council headquarters to show her support for staff.
7:00am Saturday 31st January 2015
A 91-YEAR-OLD who served as a verger at the burial of Sir Winston Churchill has recounted the historic day 50 years on.
6:30am Saturday 31st January 2015
FOR years Mike Cross was confused about why a football match he was playing in as a 16-year-old was suspended as a train went past.
6:20am Saturday 31st January 2015
A £6 MILLION revamp to a shopping centre in Oxford has been completed to make it “bigger” and “brighter”.
6:00am Saturday 31st January 2015
HOUSEHOLDS fear removing trees from railway sidings has exposed them to more noise and vibrations as a survey revealed homes had historical structural damage.
9:00am Friday 30th January 2015
THE family of man who escaped a mental hospital, fled abroad then hanged himself in a prison cell have said he was let down by Oxford Health.
12:06pm Thursday 29th January 2015
SNOW has been forecast for Oxfordshire over the weekend and a yellow weather warning is still in place for today.