The Mongol Rally is an annual exercise in lunacy wherein entrants must drive somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 grueling, dangerous miles (depending on route taken) from London to Mongolia in some seriously crappy cars. Engines must displace less than 1 liter, and while organizers allow drivers to prepare their cars for the punishing event, if they decide that the pre-rally mods make the car too good, they'll fine the driver (that money, like the $1000 entry fee, goes to Mongolian charities).
Once out in the wild, all the two-man teams (a driver and co-driver) are completely on their own. Breakdowns could happen in very remote locations, so participants are advised to get in touch with their inner MacGyvers. This year, 160 cars left Hyde Park on July 22nd. 19 were abandoned along the way, 64 have completed the rally, and 77 are still out there somewhere.
One of the cars, a 1990 Daihatsu Charade purchased for -- get ready -- £150 on eBay actually finished the event. That alone is ridiculous, but wait, it gets even better: the little Daihatsu never broke down. The "Mongolian Taxi Service" team, comprised of 21-year-old David Mayo and his dad, Tony, split time behind the wheel and arrived at the finish line after 20 days on the road. They described the conditions they experienced along the way as "atrocious." Awful conditions aside, the Mayos made good time, seeing as they were the fifth team to finish this year's rally.
They reportedly chose the Charade because they figured a Japanese car would be reliable. Good call.
(Press release after the jump)
[Sources: Daihatsu, Mongol Rally]
SIXTEEN YEAR-OLD CHARADE COMPLETES MONGOL RALLY
A 16-year old Daihatsu Charade bought for £150 on e-Bay has just completed one of the toughest drives in the world, the 6,635 mile-long Mongol Rally.
Furthermore, the car looks set to be the only entry to complete the Rally without a single breakdown.
David Mayo, a 21 year-old student from Surrey, took 20 days to complete the fund-raising feat with his 55-year old father, English teacher, Tony. They travelled as team 'Mongolian Taxi Service'.
Despite departing Hyde Park on 22 July, many of the 160-plus entrants have still to arrive in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar.
He said: "That little car was amazing and although it is not a race, we were actually fifth to arrive. The conditions were so atrocious that at one stage a Mini disappeared down a pothole.
"The toughest part was driving through Kazakhstan, south of Russia. That took two full days of driving to cover 50 km. The engine didn't like the 80 octane fuel we had to run on and the suspension took a hammering over the crater-sized potholes but the Charade struggled on nonetheless."
Neither David nor his father have any mechanical knowledge but wanted an old Japanese car because they believed it would be reliable. Competition rules limit the engine size to below 1.0 litre and while there is no cost limit, cars must be considered "highly unsuitable" for the trip.
Apart from raising more than £1,000 for charity even before they left Hyde Park, on arrival in Ulaanbaatar the Mayos donated the car plus toys and camping gear for auction. The proceeds will go to a children's charity.
The official UK importer, Daihatsu Vehicle Distributors Limited, made a contribution to preparation costs and dealer, Hall's of Ruddington carried out all the necessary work.
Daihatsu Managing Director, Paul Tunnicliffe, said: "This remarkable adventure really captured my imagination and although there was clearly no guarantee of success, it seemed a worthwhile cause to support. It is also a reflection not only on the durability of Daihatsu cars but the professionalism and thoroughness of our dealers."