A CAR enthusiast from Hawkesbury Upton is gearing up for an epic European drive in aid of charity.

Ian Sanders is taking part in next month’s Motoscape Rally from Normandy to Prague, travelling through 12 countries over seven days.

Ian, 41, is competing with friend and former colleague Mike Elson, from Shrewsbury, in a Rover 827.

“You can take part in one of two ways. Either you can use an old banger or a slightly nicer, better car and we have gone for the latter,” said Ian, a former land management advisor for Natural England.

“The car is big, it’s designed for the US really, and has a V6 engine so we are not worried about making it there.

“Most people who go down the old banger route scrap their cars at the end but we are going to use it for a week’s holiday in Italy.”

The rally stipulates any vehicle in the contest must be aged 20 years or older or worth less than £333.

The pair leave for Normandy on September 5 and will share driving the 3,000 miles taking through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Slovakia arriving in the Czech Republic on September13.

“This is something I have always wanted to do,” said Ian, who is well known in Hawkesbury for walking his greyhound dogs.

“Last year I took voluntary redundancy from Natural England so now I have the time to do it and I am really looking forward to it. “We’re going to be sat in big, comfy leather seats so it is not like we are cycling up mountains but if we want to win it will be a challenge.”

The rally includes daily challenges and Ian and Mike will be competing against 78 other teams to win the 2014 trophy. There will not be a support team on hand so they will have to carry out any car repairs themselves.

“Hopefully it is going to be less of a challenge in terms of actually finishing than it will be for others,” added Ian. “But if we want to win then it will definitely be a challenge.”

Ian is raising money for mental health charity Mind and Mike is taking part in aid of the Severn Hospice. To make a donation visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/walnutmanoeuvre