Charity team rally in Mongolia

RALLYING ROUND: The team in high spirits before the rally

TRIP: Bruce and co on the road

First published in News by

AN INTREPID charity rally team have overcome every obstacle in their way to complete a 10,000-mile journey to Mongolia in six weeks.

Maria Robinson and Steve Crabtree from Bridport joined forces with David Dignam and Tom Brain to form their team the Mad Hatters Tea Party Rally and take part in the Mongol Rally 2012.

The fifth member of their team was Bruce, the elderly Fiat Punto, which was their rally chariot, carrying them from the UK via Europe, Turkey Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakstan, Azerbajan, Tajikstan and Russia to Ulan Bator in Mongolia.

The team have so far raised £3,000 which will be split between charities Plan-UK, ShelterBox and The Lotus Children’s Centre.

Maria, from Bridport, said the trip had been incredible.

She said: “It’s been a mental and physical challenge but I feel like I could do anything now.”

She added: “We have driven through desert and snow-covered mountains.

“It’s been incredible. It couldn’t be further removed from what I have known.”

The team met up with several other rally teams on the way and six teams crossed the finish line together.

Of the 300 cars that started out only 50 made it to the compound at the end of the journey, including Bruce, with a little help from friends.

Maria said Bruce sadly died about 300 miles from the end but was towed across the finish line to complete the challenge.

The car had to contend with dirt tracks almost all the way across Mongolia, as well as a river crossing where the water came over the bonnet, but it was when the team finally got on to the Tarmac that he gave up.

Maria said: “The rules of the rally say it doesn’t matter how you get across the line as long as you cross it.”

She added: “It’s been six weeks. I have learned so much about cars, I can now change a tyre and I can look under the bonnet and say ‘yeah, it’s that’.”

The team drove all the way using only a map and compass, passing Yurt cities in Mongolia as well as eagles and wild horses, but they also had a few scrapes.

Maria said: “Some of the things we have witnessed over the past six weeks have been insane.

“We were stopped by a policeman in Kazakhstan.

“He was very strict and wanted a lot of money from the convoy and threatened to cut up our drivers’ licenses.”

Luckily the team managed to befriend him and suddenly the situation turned around and he let them through.

The team are still collecting money,. To sponsor them visit madhattersteapartyrally.com

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