The Mongol Rally
Europe to Ulan Ude
What is it?
Described by the organisers as “the greatest motoring adventure on the planet” and when you find out the T&Cs, you’re probably going to agree.
Essentially, you have to drive one third of the way around the globe, including pretty inhospitable regions of Central Asia, in a vehicle with less than 1000cc under the bonnet and only really fir for scrap.
The inaugural rally took place in 2004, in which 6 teams started and 4 completed the course but numbers soon accelerated, unlike most of the competing cars.
By 2007 the rally was leaving from Hyde Park with up to 200 teams though the main British starting point (you can also hope on in Czechia) moved around from Goodwood in West Sussex to Bodiam Castle in 2014 it launched from from Battersea Park.
Whilst it launched as a charity event, it is now a commercial event, though the individual participants continue to raise money for charities through sponsorship.
There are an array of suggested routes that teams may take. After setting off from Goodwood or one of the other Western European start points (including France, Italy, and Spain), participants then generally proceed to a launch party in Prague where they converge. Typical routes then head for Moscow, Kiev or Istanbul, though teams have travelled as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Teams taking the Ukraine/Russia route or the more southerly Turkey and Iran route often converge at Samarkand, Uzbekistan before proceeding north-east for Mongolia.
The final leg of the rally takes surviving vehicles into Mongolia and on to finish back in Russia in Ulan-Ude.
None of the available routes is comfortable or safe: damage to cars, robberies and minor injuries are common.
Year on year as the rally gains popularity, more and more car accidents occur and many participants require hospital treatment. On 6 August 2010, one British participant died and one other team mate was seriously hurt after a road accident in Iran (near the border between Iran and Turkmenistan).
Depending on the route taken, the total distance driven is around eight to ten thousand miles (approximately thirteen to sixteen thousand kilometres) and most teams complete the rally within three to four weeks.
The most countries ever passed through on the Mongol Rally is currently 41, by a team called “Destined to Flail”
The Race Rules
“We quake at the thought of clipboards and officious, stern faced arse-hats telling us how things must be done. So on one level just the word makes us a bit uneasy, but these are not normal rules. They’re not designed to keep you safe or stop the chaos. Quite the opposite. Read on and kneel at the altar of chaos”
Rule 1: You can only take a farcically small vehicle of 1 litre or less
(we will allow up to a 1.2 if you’re a bit weak) …. i.e. “Small and shit”
You can take any car, as long as it’s crap and with an engine of 1.2 litre or less. Ideally under 1 litre. For motorbikes we’ve generously allowed 125cc, but would prefer it to be a scooter.
You need to drive a small, shit car to make the rally tougher. It’s no fun if it’s too easy. If you want easy go for a spa weekend. If you want to make it harder, take a small bike.
With a small car or bike, you’re more likely to break down so you’re more likely to interact with the locals, more likely to get stuck and more likely to have an adventure. The worse the car the greater the adventure. In fact if you find your car is doing better than expected you are probably wise to pour sugar in the petrol tank.
Importantly “you have to take your crap home with you”
Unless you want to pay hefty (the wrong side of $6000 dollar sort of hefty) import fees. You have to pay import fees to scrap the car.
No, you can’t sell it. Nor can you give it to anyone. When you enter the country in a car you get a little stamp in your passport, if you leave with the stamp, but no car, you’ll have to pay the tax.
All vehicles must be driven or shipped back to whence they came. They have negotiated massive group discounts with a local freight company to assist with this, but you need to budget for the time or money to get your vehicle home.
Rule 2: You’re on your own
We could tell you everything you need to know about all the countries, roads and borders between here and Russia to ensure you have a safe, uncomplicated journey. But if it’s not dangerous and you aren’t lost, you’re not on an adventure. That means no backup or support. If you get stuck or in trouble, you need to solve the problem yourself. Any ‘Help! We’re broken down in Tajikistan,’ type phone calls to Rally HQ will be met with a snort of derision and a click of the receiver.
Rule 3: Raise £1000 for charity
It only seems fair that if you’re having the mother of all adventures you should give a little back, so we ask teams on the Rally to raise a minimum of £1000 for charity. £500 of this goes to our official charity Cool Earth. The other £500 can be donated to a charity of your choice.
Other information and how to sign up
Entry fee for cars is £695, for motorbikes is £325
A coveted space on The Mongol Rally
Invite to U.K convoy/ mini-launch
OFFICIAL LAUNCH PARTY – Mini-festival features live music, great food and drink, performances and challenges all in the surroundings of a Soviet era military base
Access to our new and improved tracking map
‘Route beer’ meetups in the run-up to the Rally
A European pit-stop party
A grand finish (if you make it) with huge parties every week
Stories so fucking excellent your friends will be in awe of you for decades to come
Shipping – no cars can cheaply be scrapped in Russia, therefore, each car team has to pay a vehicle deposit. If you use the shipping service you will turn it into your shipping fee. If you don’t use the shipping service you get it refunded in full once your vehicle returns to Europe. Shipping it yourself would cost at least five times this.