Saturday, May 3, 2014

4 students 1 Maestro stop Mongolia

IT IS a motoring challenge you would normally expect to see in Top Gear.

A mammoth 20,000 mile quest from Banbury to Mongolia in an old banger bought for £236 on eBay.

But that’s exactly what four friends are planning to do to raise cash for a special needs school.

Guy Laister and Zachary Coleman, both 20, will hit the road for the Friends of Frank Wise School with pals 21-year-old David Tapping and Tim Morgan, 19.

A 22 year-old Austin Maestro – that’s been on the road since before they were even born – will ferry them across the globe, raising money for the school where Mr Laister’s 15-year-old sister Olivia is a student.

Miss Laister has cerebral palsy, which affects movement and co-ordination.

Big brother Guy, who lives in Chipping Norton ansd is a graphic design student at the University of Gloucestershire, said: “We wanted to do something for a charity where we could see where all the money is going.

“My sister goes to the Frank Wise School in Banbury. We went there to have a look around and we saw they needed some new gym equipment. That’s why we’re doing it.”

Their 1992 Maestro had 108,000 miles on the clock when they bought it. But as soon they picked it up in London it broke down and they had to get it towed back to Banbury. As a result they have already had to fix the wheel bearings and cooling system.

The team, who have ominously nicknamed themselves Team Stranded, have spent five months fixing-up the vehicle ahead of the challenging road trip.

Mr Tapping, a computer science student at Oxford Brookes University, said: “Guy is interested in classic cars and he knows how to fix the car, and that’s why we wanted to do that challenge.

“We went for the Maestro as it had high ground clearance for rough terrain, simple mechanics meaning less to go wrong and the ease of repairing when it goes wrong in remote countries.” The team has added fog lights, a roof box and even a fully-fitted shower for the trip.

Mr Laister has owned several classic cars including a 1989 Austin Metro City X, 1977 Austin Vandanplas 1500 and a 1982 Austin Allegro L.

Mr Tapping is preparing himself to drive the lion’s share of the journey with Mr Laister. Coventry University student Zachary and Chipping Norton lad Tim will be helping out along the ride.

The challenge will see them drive through Europe, into Turkey and then Georgia before driving through to Mongolia.

The students will take on some of the world’s most dangerous roads, including the Pamir Highway , which travels through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Mr Tapping said: “It is very mountainous and very dangerous.”

The epic journey will take the team between six to eight weeks to complete.

They will drive off from Fairytale Farm – a sensory farm park the Laister family opened last year, which provides activities aimed at children and the disabled in Chipping Norton.

The students hope to raise £1,000 for the charity. For more details, see

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