Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mongolia in a Limo…

A PPE graduate (2013) from the University of York is part of a 4 man team driving a 20 year old Rover stretch limousine from London, England to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia for charity this summer. Dominic Falcão, along with Steven Brace, Oliver Skittery and Jack Chartres are undertaking the 15,000 mile round trip in aid of their chosen charity, Médecins sans Frontières, as part of the Mongol Rally 2014. The Rally has only a designated start point, London, and end point, Ulaan Baatar, for the team to pick a route between.

They have opted to drive through Europe, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia, crossing three deserts, including the Gobi Desert, on the way. Médecins Sans Frontières are a humanitarian charity that provides medical assistance to countries affected by armed conflict, natural disasters and poor healthcare systems. “We’ve chosen to support MSF because the majority of the funds raised go directly to running their essential support programmes,” Steven explains. “Their work is particularly urgent and relevant given the number and scale of conflicts occurring today” Dominic adds. Typically cars in the rally are required to have an engine size of 1 litre or less.

However, when the group found a bargain 2nd hand limo on eBay, they could not resist the offer. “We contacted the rally organisers to see if an exception could be made, and when they heard we wanted to use a limo they were all for it”. Dominic was told by his driving instructor that he was the worst student he’d had in 40 years of instructing and would certainly crash within a week of passing his test. When Jack told his parents about the rally they weren’t completely on board. Two days after telling them he received a 6 page hand-written letter from his mother pleading him not to take part. One of her many concerns was that Jack, who measures in at 6 foot 5 inches tall “would be too cramped”. This was before Jack had informed them that he had purchased a limousine.

Aside from parental concern, the team have other hurdles to overcome. Steven, who suffers from chronic car sickness, hopes that he will be able to obtain a driving licence in time for the start of the rally on the 19th of July. Insurance has proven to be a major hurdle. Initially the boys found that after contacting countless insurance brokers the same question came up every time. “Why do four twenty-two year old students need insurance on a limousine?” Unfortunately, “More seats and extra legroom” was not the answer they were looking for. They were finally successful when they found a specialist broker that covers convicted and banned drivers.

When asked why they chose a limo they replied “With one of the longest continuous histories in the motor industry, the Rover marque has always had a reputation for luxury without extravagance and style without ostentation. It has maintained this status with the Rover 827 limousine which includes exclusively full-grain leather interiors and fully electric wing mirrors. The Rover 827’s top of class air conditioning system makes it the only practical choice for crossing the Gobi desert. This paired with state of the art soft-air suspension will allow a smooth journey across potholes, river crossings and arid desert planes.” The team are hoping to raise £2,500 for their chosen charities; three of the team have run half marathons to raise money and Dominic has shaved his head, waxed his legs and armpits and is piercing his ear and nipple to raise money. They have additional fundraising events planned for the near future. To follow their progress, and donate, like them on Facebook at “London Mongolia Limo Service”, find them on Twitter at @mongolrallylimo or go to www.mongolrallylimoservice.co.uk.

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