A PAIR of petrolheads are gearing up to embark on the ‘driving experience of a lifetime’ in the south of France.

Christopher Mather and Mark Harris, from Witney, will navigate a series of winding routes in sports cars and SUV’s during a four-day trip, starting on Sunday.

It comes after the duo won the Continental Black Chili Driving Experience competition, triumphing in a series of challenges at Mercedes-Benz World at the historic Brooklands motor racing circuit.

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The trip is a dream come true and Mr Mather revealed the opportunity will not come around again.

He said: “Winning our place on the Black Chili Driving Experience is fantastic.

“Being lucky enough to win a place at Mercedes Benz World was great in itself but then the sense of achievement at winning through to France topped off a fantastic day.

“As we both have families we would never have been able to suggest to our wives that we go on a driving holiday together without them.”

The pair have been friends for 22 years after meeting as graduate apprentice electronics engineers at Lucas Automotive in Witney.

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United by an overwhelming passion for all things motoring, they build and restore cars together in their spare time.

After entering an online competition ran with Auto Car and What Car?, the Witney residents were among 12 pairs of drivers invited to the Black Chili qualifier event.

Participants were whittled down through a variety of challenges, including a time-trialled intricate buzz wire, Continental’s ‘BATAK’ machine - a large metal frame with buttons that light up at random - and a transparent golf ball maze.

Teams also had to demonstrate their driving ability around the track, taking part in ‘blind driving’, timed laps and off-road challenges.

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Mr Mather called the trip to France a 'perfect excuse to take a break and indulge' the pair's love of driving.

They will take on three stages from Sunday until next Thursday, driving along the Route des Crêtes, Route D’Azur and Route des Cascaces.

The picturesque routes total 354 miles, starting and ending in the historic town of Mougins and passing the stunning sites of Gourdon and Tourtour.

The Witney residents will get behind the wheel of a range of motors, including an Audi RS3, Porsche Boxster and a Mustang GT.

For each route, the team will be given a classic paper road book, offering a daily programme with tourist information and facts about the cars and tyres equipped.

As well as featuring UHP tyres, some of the available cars include Continental products from the business's different areas.

Peter Robb, Continental Tyres spokesperson, called the qualifying day a 'huge success', adding: “This is truly a once in a lifetime driving experience."