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Two Gateshead-based motor technicians have helped to showcase North East manufacturing and engineering prowess on the world stage, after completing work for a couple of high profile sporting institutions including footballing giant FC Barcelona.

From their base at Lookers Nissan Gateshead, the only EV Lithium Battery repair centre in the country, master technicians Mark Thirtle and Barry Jacques have completed a number of unusual and interesting jobs in recent months.

The duo have worked on the first fully electric vehicle to compete in the 2017 Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile off road race throughout Europe and Asia, set to be held in July.

Modifying a Nissan Leaf, the car will be the first fully electric vehicle to take on the arduous event, which takes remote deserts, mountains and grasslands from London to Mongolia.

A prestigious contract involved the pair replacing the car’s 3.3kW charger unit with a 6.6kW version, allowing the car to be charged much quicker.

It’s not the first time that Mark and Barry have helped a sports team get to their destination, with the pair recently called upon to work on a specially adapted Nissan Leaf limousine used by FC Barcelona to transport its players and staff to and from the Camp Nou, their home stadium, during the club’s Champions League fixtures.

Mark said: “We were more than a little surprised when we found out we’d be working on a Nissan Leaf rally car, as it’s the last car you’d expect to be competing in a rally and shows just how far EV technology has come. We’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on the Mongol Rally to see how the car gets on.

“It was also a thrill to think that we had a part to play in building a car that could have been ferrying the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar around as they prepared for their biggest games of the season.”

Barry added: “We absolutely love the Nissan Leaf, so much so that we both drive one outside of work. It’s becoming more and more popular amongst savvy motorists looking for something a bit different.”