A JOURNEY of 10,000km starts with three students and a Kia Rio with a suspect roof rack.
Woking trio Fin O’Sullivan, Rob Prince and Elliot Alexander – better known as Team Birdsworth – will embark on the greatest challenge of their young lives this month as they take to the starting grid in the annual Mongol Rally.
The friends, all 20 and sponsored by Field’s Care Centre in Goldsworth Road industrial estate, will depart from Goodwood on July 13 and travel through 15 countries before reaching Mongolia and their Ulan Bator finish line six weeks later.
On arrival, they will hand over the keys to their battered vehicle and catch a flight back to the UK.
Rules specify that cars can be no older than a 2003 registration and cannot have anything bigger than a 1,200cc engine. Approximately 200 drivers will join Team Birdsworth at Goodwood.
Rob said: “Since the introduction of the scrappage scheme there are just no bangers out there that cost less than £2,000 – except the Kia Rio. She absolutely purrs but we haven’t got a mechanic travelling with us.
“We’re not likely to have to strip the engine by the side of the road so as long as we can change and repair a tyre we should be fine.
“Once we get to Kazakhstan and Mongolia we’ll have to time it right to make sure we aren’t caught out. The country which has caused us the most hassle is France. We are only there for three hours but everything in the car has to conform to their crazy safety laws.”
Fin added: “It takes a lot of time to organise a trip like this and we’ve got a bit of a system to decide what comes with us. If we don’t know what it is or can’t work it, it’s getting chucked.”
One of the rally’s few rules stipulates that teams must raise a minimum of £1,000 to be split between the Mongolian charity Lotus Children’s Centre and another charitable trust of their choosing.
The team have chosen to sponsor the prostate cancer research centre after Fin’s grandfather passed away in 2009.
To sponsor the lads visit www.justgiving.com/teambirdsworth or www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/birdsworth