By ROSALIND GRIFFITHS
FOUR young men from the south mainland are set for an epic adventure when they drive through every country in Europe.
The four friends, Kevin Smith, 23, Ryan Munro, 23, Tomas Smith, 18, and Erik Peterson, 20, all from Sandwick and Levenwick, will drive their 28-year-old Land Rover on the 4,000 mile round trip in aid of the local charity Mind Your Head.
They are taking part in the Landy Rally, an event for Land Rovers described as part competition, part off-road drive and part social.
Kevin described it as “a bit of a laugh and a holiday”, as well as having a serious purpose, and Tomas said it would be more than just going away.
The four will leave Shetland next Wednesday and head to Calais, from where the event, which will see them cover 10 countries in seven days, will start on Saturday.
The event has routes set out every day and Kevin described it as a “leisurely drive, checking out the scenery”, but they will have tasks every day, set by the organisers, in the style of a treasure hunt. Points will be awarded for the tasks – which last year included having your photo taken with a policeman.
The first day will be the hardest, they said, as they will have to drive the whole length of the east side of France and into Spain, a distance of some 668 miles. In total they will clock up 2,500 miles on continental Europe. They expect to be driving up to 12 hours a day, and will be sleeping at camp-sites after a get-together party at a temporary rally HQ every night.
Around 50-60 vehicles will be taking part, mainly from Britain, and each will be equipped with satellite navigation, although the boys do not anticipate getting lost. Ryan said: “We’ll just follow the person in front.
There will also be fully trained mechanics on the trail in two maintenance vehicles.
However driving on the “wrong” side of the road may present a problem for the boys, who although they have been to Europe before, have never driven there. Only the two older members of the group, Kevin and Ryan, will drive, as only two drivers are allowed in Landy Rally – and as they pointed out, insurance is cheaper for over-21s.
Kevin said: “I don’t know what to expect. I’ve driven in Scotland and England but never on the other side of the road, but the scenery will make up for it.” He was particularly looking forward to seeing Italy, he said.
Ryan said: “I’ve never driven south yet but I’m looking forward to it. I want to drive round the Arc de Triomphe.”
Both he and Tomas said they wanted to see the Alps and experience the snaking mountain roads. Tomas said the eight-lane traffic in Paris might be daunting, but added: “We’ll be fine when we’re out of the cities.”
On the trip they will have the chance to drive off-road on normally closed pistes at Val d’Isere and visit the tax haven of Andorra (where a litre of vodka is £1.80).
Their Land Rover, a series 3 with a 2.5 litre Transit diesel engine, is in good condition, and they will take CB radios to stay in touch with the group, fire extinguishers, a first aid kit, and extra fuel, as well as “a good sense of humour”. Kevin said: “We’ll try not to stress each other out and navigate in the right direction.”
They have already raised more than £1,000 for Mind Your Head and want to thank everyone who put money (totalling £560) in their collecting buckets when they went round the pubs last Saturday. Anyone else wishing to help could do so via the Mind Your Head website, they said.