First teams triumphantly splutter over the finish line on the Mongol Rally 2011
A bassy inefficient rumbling exhaust graces our ears, not too dissimilar to a pneumatic drill. This is the sure sign that a Rally team approaches, more often than not due to the lack of an entire exhaust system. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later and three teams splutter their way over the finish to rapturous applause and cheering from other teams from the Finish Line Bar balcony.
So far 39 teams have crossed the line. We've had British boys in Nissan Micras, Czech chaps in Fiat Pandas, German gents in Daihatsu Cuores and Spanish signors in their ambulances. The spirits in the Mongol Rally Finish Line bar are high. Teams arrive, register their cars to be auctioned for charity, grab an extremely well deserved chilled pint of Aлтан говь and flop exhaustedly onto a sofa. Tales of adventure that you couldn't even begin to concoct spread around the room like herpes at a high-school.
One of the recent arrivals, Keith McVitty of team '206 a Race Odyssey' - a seasoned veteran of all things Adventurists having completed the Mototaxi Junket 2009, Rickshaw Run Autumn 2010 and now the Rally, was recounting the minor problems he had with his Peugeot:
'On the second day of the Rally in Germany we blew up our entire engine, we thought it was all over when the mechanic made an 'X' with his hands. However, we sweet talked him into helping us and amazingly he rebuilt it in three days - but it cost more than the car to fix. After that we had brake failures and had to drive 80km without them, the fuel tank ruptured, we snapped the fuel pipes and had to be towed for 70km, the back doors don't open from the inside, the boot doesn't open, we blew up five tyres, smashed one rim, sank in a river and flooded the engine, the CD player only plays the first four tracks of any album, the wheel arch is smashed, the rear wheel sits at an angle and wobbles when you go round a corner, the car naturally steers way to the right... oh, and the exhaust fell off... but apart from that it's as good as new!'
It should also be noted that Keith was supposed to be back at work on Monday but had to delay, he phoned his boss to explain the situation. It just so happened however, that he was sitting in the drivers seat of a Soviet era tank having earlier fired a rocket propelled grenade at the time - jolly good show.
Steven and David from Team 'Mathematicians not Mechanics' had a dodgy moment during a river crossing. Lacking a tow point on their car, a tractor they hailed down to help them across a river attached the rope to a tiny finger sized piece of metal on the underside of the car.
'We were being towed backwards and half way across the river we heard a *clunk* noise and looking in the rear view mirror we just saw the tractor continue to drive away and all off a sudden we just started going down and down, sinking into the river. Water started pouring in the back of the car till the level was covering the seats... everything was saturated. I then turned on the engine, which amazingly started and, with my feet and the pedals underwater, just managed to drive the car out the way we came in. The only annoying thing was that we were still on the wrong bloody side!'
Team 'Two Blondes and Two Brits Walk into a Baatar' had an equally absurd story that goes as follows:
'So, we were leaving Kazakhstan for the second time, we'de heard the border's not known to be very easy. We were just pulling up to the border and Cassie, one of the blondes had a tin of those traditional Simpkins Sweets with the powder sugar on them and decides now is a good time to have one. Five seconds before the border guard reaches us, she spills the tin leaving white powder all over the place. We were all like 'Shit!'... she had what looked like coke all over her trousers, all over the dashboard... she then starts frantically dusting it off and blowing it away, which only added to the problem by distributing it all around the car. The guard seemed not to notice, luckily and we were on our way.'
The remaining teams are still thundering there way across 1/3rd of the globe getting into a multitude utterly absurd situations. Congratulations to the chaps and chappettes that have already finished, and to the rest of you - we hope everything goes wrong, because if nothing goes wrong, everything has gone wrong.
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