Around 500 adventurists in 300 “unusual for travelling” cars gathered at Hyde Park in London, for the launch of the 2014 Mongol Rally and set off to Mongolia on Saturday, July 20.
They are due to arrive in Ulaanbaatar on August 31, after crossing 17,000 kilometers of challenging terrain in some 20 different countries along the way.
The Adventurists, founded by Tom Morgan, organizes the Mongol Rally. The first rally was completed in 2004 with four teams. The rally is famous worldwide, as there is nothing like it in the world of rally courses. Organizers say the core point of it is adventure and the challenge drivers face along the way, rather than who gets to the finish line first.
This year, no rally cars will stay behind in Ulaanbaatar. They will either be shipped back to their countries of origin or rally drivers will travel home with their cars, unlike previous years.
Though the rally increases the flow of travelers to Mongolia and contributes to the state budget, some local residents are critical about the fact that rally cars, which have been massively degraded on the way, stay in Mongolia for charity.
For the past nine years, Adventures for Development Mongolia (AFDM) NGO was the Mongolian organizer and was responsible for receiving and selling the rally cars and using the profit for charitable donations, according to AFDM representative G.Baigal.
She also highlighted that all the Mongol Rally cars which were left in Mongolia passed AFDM’s requirements for vehicle standards (rally cars must not be older than ten years), unlike the public’s misunderstanding that the cars are practically scrap metal, staying only to pollute Ulaanbaatar.
This year, news that none of the 300 cars faced vehicle-age restrictions spread in the media, which upset the public. Shataraa, an AFDM representative, spoke with us about plans for 2014.
We heard the rally cars didn’t have to pass any requirements on years of usage this year. Why is that?
None of the rally cars will stay in Ulaanbaatar this year and that is why we haven’t set age restrictions on them. Shipping issues are currently being processed.
The rally cars used to stay in Ulaanbaatar every year. Why is this year being organized differently?
Mongol Rally will not be held here starting next year. The organizers couldn’t deliver accurate information about the rally to the public, so people seem to have negative ideas about it. The media spreads false information about the rally, saying we are willingly bringing scrap metal to the city. Because of this, The Adventurists are not pleased. So this is the last year to welcome the rally cars.
How much profit did Mongol Rally bring to Mongolia in total for the past nine years?
Each rally car paid special customs tax, and regular customs tax together with VAT. Mongol Rally brought almost two billion MNT to the state budget in total. Plus, a total of 4,000 tourists have travelled to Mongolia and spent about six billion MNT here.
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