Two weeks into the 2017 Mongol Rally. With everyday that passes, our Ralliers learn something new from the long, hard road. Lessons learnt this week include: what a Renault Kangoo looks like after being T-boned by a French van and how Turkish border guards like to play hide and seek with registration papers.
They're battered and bruised. Their vehicles are in pieces. They've torn up plans and thrown hopes and dreams into the gutter. Their fate and the road are now intertwined, and there's only one thing left for the Ralliers to do – they must keep rallying on.
Two weeks and thousands of miles have taken a toll on the 400 rust buckets making their way from London to Mongolia (and beyond). For some teams, it's all gone to shit.
'Meat & 3 Veg' played chicken with a maintenance van in France and lost, badly. Even their ingenious approach to side impact protection (what appears to be a tyre necklace wrapped around the car) couldn't save them. The Kangoo is now more of a Kantgoo but its plucky kiwi drivers are looking for a new car to keep them going. Who knows how long that one will last? Let's hope longer than two weeks...
Meanwhile, Team Zazgar had a fight with a combine harvester and lost.
Bad is a relative term when it comes to the Mongol Rally. Generally speaking, bad means good. Disaster gives you something to talk about. Your car breaks down, you meet friendly locals and get blind drunk on local hooch. You get taken hostage by the KGB and live in captivity for ten years, you end up with shed load of content for your autobiography. That sort of thing.
A minor disaster struck for Team Soviet Rocket when their Lada got torn a new arsehole by potholes the size of meteorite craters on Hungarian roads.
The piece of chassis that got torn off had served them well until that point so, naturally, they decided to give it a ritual burial.
"We have blessed it on its final journey (sadly, not to Mongolia)."
They aren't the only ones who've been struggling with road conditions. Kudos to everyone who's taken the unroute and suffered the consequences. We salute you and your stupidity.
It hasn't all been breakdowns and lost papers. Some teams have actually managed to enjoy themselves this week. Here are the (few) success stories.
This week's photo competition winner
"I'm going to need more lube".
It's only been two weeks, but team "Till the end" have developed a very close relationship with their car.
To enter your photos into next week's competition, use hashtag #mongolrallyphotocomp