PHOTOS: Mongol Rally joy for Dorchester friends
MONGOL Rally friends from Dorchester are celebrating after completing their gruelling overland journey.
Tom Thornycroft, Lee Goddard, Paul Reis and Chris King described their trip as amazing.
And they confessed they were close to tears as they said goodbye to the two Suzuki Alto cars - nicknamed Ivor and Eddie - that carried them on the 8,200-mile route.
The four, all 29, completed the rally in three weeks and four days, arriving together at the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar 13th out of the 300 teams that set out.
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The rally is a source of cars and spare parts for isolated Mongolian communities.
Tom said: “We thought our cars would only be fit for spares by the time we’d get there but in fact they’re still going strong.
“There was a real tear in the eye when we had to give those little cars up.
“What they had been through, most 4x4s would have struggled with and they just kept going.
“Huge potholes, extreme temperatures, rutted paths and muddy hill climbs provided far bigger problems for the drivers than for the cars.
“During the journey the cars suffered just two slow punctures and three broken springs, all of which were easily repairable.”
He added: “It was an incredible journey. We were camping for most of the trip which was both essential and spectacular in Mongolia itself.”
He said the team are grateful to Blacks, as one of their sponsors, for providing all their camping equipment and enabling them to cope with extremes from freezing night to the edge of tropical storms.
Tom said the last few hours were among the hardest because of a major storm.
And their original aim to enjoy some sightseeing was curtailed because they feared overrunning their four-week deadline, imposed by work commitments.
Problems along the way included a navigational error which left them having to dig their vehicles out of a ravine, a virus that laid them all low and a 27-hour hold-up in a customs pen trying to cross the border into Mongolia.
Tom said: “We’re all still friends and that’s quite something.”
The four each paid around £2,000 of their own money for the trip with other expenses offset by generous sponsorship and events held to raise cash.
In addition they have so far raised £5,000 to be shared by Spinal Research and the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.
Tom said: “There were a few uncomfortable moments - we felt a bit unwelcome in Kazakhstan - but I adored Mongolia.
“I have got to go back there. It was worth everything we went there just to be able to drive through Mongolia.”
He added: “It was an incredible adventure and we were so pleased to raise money for those two charities as well as get those cars to help people in Mongolia.
“We’re still buzzing about it but we’re already whispering ‘what next’!”
They hope to give talks on their rally adventure and to produce a calendar to raise more money for the charities.