A team of 14 current and ex-military service personnel, some with severe physical and mental injuries, have completed the Carta Rallye in Morocco, an extreme 2,000km challenge that took place in the Sahara Desert, all in a trio of Dacia Dusters.
Over seven days between the 31st March and 6th of April, the Future Terrain team, a charity that supports career transition and rehabilitation mainly for those with physical and mental injuries, took on giant sand dunes, rocky roads, flooded tracks and harsh terrain – in Britain’s most affordable 4×4. The journey to Morocco was also just as arduous, with the team driving more than 2,000 miles from the UK and then all the way back home again.
While several specially-built rally cars costing hundreds of thousands were getting stuck overnight in the desert, the shockingly affordable Dusters made it back to the camp each evening after ten-hours of driving. The Dusters were near-standard, with little to no modifications made to them other than some racing seats, roll bars and all-terrain tyres.
The team took part in the GPS Challenge, a timed navigation-based event. Not just about podium results, the aim of the event for the charity was to build confidence and skills in the group that competed and challenge them to redefine themselves. However, the team aimed high and achieved second and third place finishes in some legs.
While the team were expecting a dustbowl, they arrived following highly unusual heavy rain and the first day of the rally saw the cars being driven through a far wetter environment than predicted, meaning that the challenge was even greater as they had to improvise and think even more carefully about the routes they were taking through the desert.
Scott Garthley, who was a Sergeant in the Adjutant General’s Corps, received several complex injuries following an explosion while serving in Iraq in 2003, including the need to amputate a limb in recent years. He was an expedition coordinator on the event and said: “The event really threw up some challenges for us with the changeable weather. One-minute sunny weather, then heavy rain with poor visibility and sandstorms. It made navigation really tough.
”On completing the rally, Grant White, co-founder of Future Terrain, said: “The Carta Rallye is highly demanding even for the fittest able-bodied people, when you bring people into the mix who are in wheelchairs, with prosthetic limbs or have mental illness, it really ups the ante. It’s the first time we have driven these cars in this kind of environment and we found out the Dusters can even climb mountains as we went slightly off-piste! I sat there in wonder seeing people that only three to four weeks ago had never driven off-road but took these cars up things you just wouldn’t believe.
”Ben Fletcher, Head of Dacia UK, said: “I’m delighted to see the success that Future Terrain had in Morocco with the Duster. It’s been amazing to hear the stories from the team, how they overcame the challenges facing them and how their skills and confidence are growing with the support of the charity.
”The team of volunteers from Future Terrain now prepare themselves for the next challenges – racing the Dacia Dusters in the British Cross-Country Championship rally series as well as other events in the UK.
The All-New Duster starts at just £9,995 with the 4×4 version priced from just £13,710 OTR. It carries over the same off-roading credentials that helped make the previous model such a success with a high ground clearance of 210mm, approach and departure angles of 30 and 33 degrees respectively as well as Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. Also as standard on 4×4 versions is a 4×4 monitor that incorporates a compass and notifies the driver of the vehicle’s angle in real time.