Grease to Greece

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

-- In the last week of August, eight cars rolled triumphantly into Athens, having driven across Europe from London in a cloud of dust and cooking smells.

The 3,000-km car rally ran on oil, recycled from used cooking oil collected from restaurants, service stations, hospitals, even "old folks' homes along the way".

The rally's organiser, Andy Page, called it a "fat-finding mission". No stranger to alternatively-powered rallies, he led a team of "chocolate-powered biotrucks" from the UK to Timbuktu, via the Sahara desert last year, the trucks powered by a biodiesel converted from waste cocoa butter. The rally's website told participants that the requirement for the journey was "a diesel car - it doesn't have to be converted (but it helps if it is)". It also said that participants must have "the capacity to explain to a Croatian kebab shop owner that you need his grease".

The rally had begun with 10 cars. "One pulled out because he had to attend a wedding and his wife threatened divorce if he was late, and another retired because he didn't have the papers to get into Montenegro," Page said.

Page said in Germany the police wanted to search his rather battered-looking old red Peugeot 405, piled high with a roof tent and oil containers: "We showed them some newspaper cuttings and they just had a laugh about it. They gave us 40 litres of waste oil from a caf in a police station".

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