Two Nissan Patrols forming part of the 15,000-mile Long Way Down expedition have crossed the finish line – with just one puncture between them during the entire trip.
The specially-modified 4x4 vehicles supported Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman during their journey from John o’Groat's to Cape Town in South Africa, which will be screened on television later this year.
The cars were driven by co-directors and executive producers Russ Malkin and David Alexanian, and motored on through everything the African continent had to throw at them.
“The cars were amazing – just one puncture along the way and they didn’t let us down once,” said Russ.
“I finished on the same four tyres I left on – in fact it was only as the Patrols were being driven away this morning to be shipped back to England that I realised quite how attached we’ve become to them.
“Ewan and Charley really appreciated seeing the Patrols coming over the horizon – the cars meant friends, food, supplies and reassurance. The cars became the mothership of the journey, offering shelter during the more hazardous moments – they really did the job.”
Russ said the entire crew was also grateful for the modifications on the vehicles, including the long-range fuel tanks that had been fitted.
“We were driving across beautiful but wild desert-scapes in Namibia – we didn’t have to go that way but we wanted to because it looked so amazing,” he said. “But once out there you realise you really are in the middle of nowhere and you couldn’t just stop for petrol. Nissan put fuel tanks with a 450-mile range in the Patrols and that got us across the desert so we could film.”
Russ and David, together with a medic, were part of the small support crew following Ewan and Charley on their epic journey, which finished at the weekend in the shadow of Table Mountain in Cape Town.
“The arrival in Cape Town was incredible – we were approaching in the Patrols to be met by hundreds of people with a helicopter overhead filming us – the sense of achievement, and relief, was amazing,” added Russ.
Russ now has one last ambition for the Nissan Patrol that got him through the journey – picking up his 12-year-old daughter Emily from school in it.
“The Patrol looks really cool, so for her dad to rock up in it to collect her from school would be fantastic,” he added.
The Patrols are due back in England in three weeks time and Nissan will work with the Long Way Down team on what to do with them next.
John Parslow, Nissan 4x4 brand manager, said: “We knew the Patrols would not let the crew down but even so this is another incredible achievement by Ewan, Charley, Russ and David and we congratulate them on finishing the journey.
“This has been a fantastic partnership for us and we look forward to working with the guys on even more exciting projects in the future.”
The expedition was a follow-up to the original Long Way Round trip in 2004 which saw Ewan and Charley ride more than 19,000 miles, travelling eastwards through Europe and Asia, completing their journey in New York. This time the trip covered 15,000 miles supported by the Nissan Patrols which were home to the mobile editing suite used to document the pair’s adventure for a new BBC TV series.