Sunday, 23 August 2009

Mongol Rally - Making Life Less Boring

A few years ago in an attempt to make life less boring some nutters set out to drive to Mongolia. Obviously they failed but it wasn't the car that let them down. Their lack of visas was all it seemed that stood in the way of an adventure that would take them across some of the worlds most demanding roads in a car costing less than £1000 with an engine of only 1200 cc. A nine year old suburban shopping cart basically.

Of course the sensible thing to do would be to go in a Landrover, but where's the fun in that?

A year and an internet campaign later 6 teams set off - london to Ulan Bator - 10,000 miles or approximately one third of the earths surface. 4 of them made it. Every year a few more make the start and the number finishing goes up too.

The rules are hilariously simple.
Totally unsupported. Totally. The Adventureists will help you get started, get your papers in order but from the moment you leave it's all on you. here's the warning they issue to potential entrants

These adventures are genuinely dangerous things to do. The website is written in a light-hearted fashion but you cannot underestimate the risks involved in undertaking this kind of adventure. Your chance of dying can be very high, some past teams have been seriously injured. These adventures are not a glorified holiday. They are an adventure and so by their very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own. If it all goes wrong, that's it, tough.

No cars over 1200cc
No cars over £1000
If its over ten years old you must bring it back.
If it's under ten years old it's auctioned off for charity in Mongolia and you fly home.

This years start was four weeks ago from Goodwood house a massive stately home in the countryside just outside london. 300 teams set off, with a further 200 from Milan[o] and Barcelona between them. The Northern Monkey, Bushwacker Jnr, The Littlest Bushwacker and myself attended on your behalf.

Lots of different motors had been chosen by the teams, The Rally's rules stipulate that a participating car must "generally be considered to be crap." this crew had gone for the Daihatsu Hijet known for being cheap as chips a chugging on for ever. A recent rule change, the Mongolian government now asks that if your conveyance is over ten years old you have the common courtesy to scrap it in your own backyard, means that some of the better old school options are no longer practical. A citroen 2CV or Diane van is easily prepped into a serious off roader and with its air cooled 600 cc engine fits the rules and is easy to fix. The car with the highest number of successful finishes is that archytypal shopping trolly the Daihatsu Charade. One, bought for £150 on e-Bay, is credited with a 20 day finish with NO BREAKDOWNS.

We met Beth and Keith from Maine calling themselves The Mainiacs. Beth had wanted to go for five years, her husband had flat out refused to go, she'd spent most of the time looking for someone crazy enough to go with her, flown to england bought and prepared the car (a 2000 Hyundai Accent) covered it in inflatable lobsters and was setting off in high spirits. Four weeks later they've finished!
We also ran into the most excellent Henry from the UK arm of BUFFS, who are sponsoring the event. Proving himself to be one of the good guys he gave the kids a Buff each and then as if his good-guy-ness was in any doubt,he flashed up a buff each for myself and TNM. Top Chap.

Just in case any of you were wondering what a crazy pig-dog would look like in a Buff, The Northern Monkey was on hand to settle any debate!
The application time for next years event is coming up fast , have a look here to find out more.
Your pal
The Bushwacker.