Charitable Norfolk friends prepare for monumental motoring challenge

A trio of Norfolk friends are preparing to take on an epic motoring challenge for charity - despite the fact one of them cannot drive.

Dale Whitcombe, Lee Slater and Tom Clifford are among scores of adventurous teams that will drive more than 10,000 miles across 17 countries, three deserts and five mountain ranges in the Mongol Rally.

The annual event challenges motorists to make the incredible journey in a car with a tiny engine of one litre or under and raise as much as possible for their chosen cause.

Dale, Lee and Tom - who are all 22 and met while studying at Easton College in Norwich - are raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) and even though the race is 10 months away, they have each taken on a firm role for the international adventure.

Dale, from Dereham, and Lee, from Caister, will be joint drivers while Tom, from Burgh Castle, has been assigned the post of navigator.

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Dale said: 'Tom can't drive but he's been studying languages so we're hoping he's going to come in handy there. He'll be in the back seat with the map.'

The friends have wanted to compete in the rally for several years and are now looking forward to getting behind the wheel next July and exploring countries off the beaten track.

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The rally is now in its tenth year and takes teams from the UK across Europe to the Czech Republic, and from there racers are left to make their own way across the finish line in Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar.

Dale, Lee and Tom - who make up Team JustKhazaKhan - are planning on forging a route through the Middle East, taking in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan among others, that crosses into Russia before dropping into Mongolia.

They are expecting to complete the rally in eight weeks.

Dale, a shop supervisor at Jolleys in Thetford, said: 'It's quite daunting, especially if you look at it on a map. But the whole idea of the challenge is to push yourself to the limit.'

Tom, who studied Spanish at university, added: 'The whole experience of it is going to be quite surreal. You very rarely get a chance to do something for charity that's also a life changing event.

'It's about experiencing different cultures and seeing how other people see the world.'

He is preparing to jet off to Morocco to teach English as a second language and will be attempting to learn Russian while he is there to help the team on his return.

While he is away Lee and Tom will be finalising their rally route and brainstorming fundraising ideas for Gosh.

Zoology student Lee said they had chosen to support the world famous hospital as it does 'fantastic' work and they are now aiming to raise �2,000 'in any way' possible.

'It's something we've always really wanted to do. It will be nice to see a part of the world that isn't often advertised,' he added.

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