TWO friends from Edinburgh are preparing to drive 10,000 miles in a tiny 15-year-old car in the name of charity.
Domonkos Nemeth, 26, and Gab Ballok, 27, will be setting off to tackle the challenges of the Mongol Rally – going through 17 countries, two continents, mountain ridges and parts of the Gobi desert.
Dom, who is currently studying electrical engineering, said: “The exciting part is that there is no back-up or any kind of support along the way except the generosity of local folks.
“Beyond the Caspian Sea, roads are down to dirt tracks or simply nonexistent. Our Suzuki definitely meets the requirements so we are already learning some mechanic skills.
“We have been planning, preparing since December and now launching our fundraising programme called Mongol Rally for Smiles. We are trying to raise awareness of the positive health benefits of laughter.”
The team hopes to raise £2000 for Edinburgh-based Hearts & Minds, which is also known as The Clowndoctors, and for Cool Earth.
Dom added: “We are also looking for local businesses and individuals for sponsorship to help us with the personal costs of the trips as well as anyone who can donate parts or help us in preparing the Swift for the journey.”
The annual rally starts in London and finishes in Ulan-Ude, Russia, only a day’s drive north from Mongolia’s capital, Ulan Bataar.
Without any set route or checkpoints, competitors are free to go anywhere in their own pace but must stick to three simple rules.
They can only take a small vehicle, once on the road they are completely on their own and they have to raise a minimum £1000 for charity. There are no prizes for finishing first and around 300 teams take part every year.
Also participating this year is the mother of Scottish stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill.
Anne MacAskill, 67, from Skye, and friend Kay Simpson, 69, are due to compete in the rally in a two-decade-old Renault Express.
“We have an agreement – I don’t worry about him and he does not worry about me,” Mrs MacAskill said about her adventure.
“But he is delighted that I’m doing this. I’ve never done anything like it before.”
Mrs MacAskill runs the Colbost Folk Museum and the Giant MacAskill Museum on Skye, along with her husband, Peter.
“I’m hoping he will sponsor me for a few pounds,” she said.
The venture is in memory of Ms Simpson’s partner, Duncan Strachan, who died almost three years ago.
Former vet Ms Simpson will celebrate her birthday during the event which begins on July 16 and takes in England, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia.
Competitors have to complete the epic adventure by September 12.