Four men set out from the Isle of Man at the weekend with a 9,000 mile, six week adventure ahead of them.
Matthew Carter, 43, Chris Connam, 65, and former King William’s College pupils Rory Kimber and Ben Sharples, both 21, plan to arrive in the Mongolian capital by August 30 – and they are relying on two 25-year-old Minis to get them there.
Not the corpulent BMW version, but the once ubiquitous original, churned out by the thousand from British Leyland’s factory between the late 50s and the 1990s.
The event is the Mongol Rally which started from London’s Battersea Park on Sunday and will take the men through Prague, Turkey and Russia, before ending in Ulaan Baatar.
Like all the best ideas, it was conceived over a pint: ‘I drink with Rory’s dad who works for gaming company 138.com. They are sponsoring us to do it as a promotional venture. It’s come about really quickly. We bought the two minis six weeks ago off Ebay for £1,500 each. They weren’t in bad condition and went through the Manx MOT without a problem. Then I worked on them to change things like cylinder head gaskets, clutches and we did the brakes and suspension - anything that might fail over a long journey was renewed,’ Matthew said.
The cars were also set up with roof racks, jerry cans and camping gear: petrol stations will not always be plentiful and nor will Travelodges. After the rally, the cars will be transported back to Lithuania and they will have to collect them from there. One will then be based in London and the other will return to the Isle of Man. The men will also be raising money for two charities: Manx Miracles and Cool Earth, which protects rainforests.