CHEADLE-BASED Nigel Kelsall and Sean Bates have been announced as finalists in a major driving competition.
The Conti4x4trophy is the driving experience of a lifetime, run by Continental Tyres.
Nigel, aged 48, and his 40-year-old co-driver Sean will be driving one of 14 Hummers, exploring the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, crossing breath-taking scenery and fiery sand dunes, navigating through rocky gorges and fording spectacular rivers.
The six-day trip to Morocco is at the beginning of next month and will see the two fly to Casablanca before travelling on to Ouarzazate, nicknamed “the door to the desert” and where many films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Living Daylights, The Mummy and Gladiator were filmed.
This is where the driving begins – Niel and Sean will navigate the difficult terrain during the day and be pampered at night in a selection of luxury hotels, and also have a true Bedouin experience with one night camping under the stars.
The pair came top in the competition run over 12 weeks and were one of 28 sets of drivers invited to a qualifying event at the Land Rover test track, where their skills and aptitude were tested.
They had to demonstrate their off-road driving ability and a range of other skills.
Nigel and Sean, who are both technical engineers, were among 14 teams selected.
Nigel said: “I’m very excited and a little nervous about the trip. This will be a totally new experience and one that we feel privileged to have won.
“The Conti 4x4 challenge will be like a mini Top Gear expedition, which will educate the mind and senses with different cultures, landscapes and experiences.” Sean added: “Nigel and I are good friends who have worked together for many years.
“We’re looking forward to embarking on this challenge together, seeing the desert close up, meeting different people and experiencing a totally unique culture. Our main aim is to get back in one piece, and hopefully not break down whilst in the desert.” Continental Tyres spokesman Peter Robb said: “This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime driving experience. Nigel and Sean can expect a real challenge – we’re really looking forward to them being part of an amazing adventure.” For more information about the Conti4x4trophy, visit the website at www.conti4x4trophy.co.uk.