A FORMER pupil of Loretto School in Musselburgh is set to take on epic driving challenge the Mongol Rally in an old VW Polo.
Charlie Simpson, 22, along with friend Dom Pereira, 23, will drive more than 10,000 miles from Goodwood Motor Circuit in Sussex to Ulan-Ude in Russia to raise funds for a trio of charities.
Known as Team Nowhere Fast, the intrepid duo, who met in the Army Reserves, will thunder their way across mountains, desert and steppes of Europe and Asia in the Mk4 VW Polo, with two careful owners and 53,500 miles on the clock.
Charlie, who was brought up in Gifford, said: “The Mongol Rally is a ‘banger rally’: that is no 4x4s, no engines bigger than one litre, no sat navs and no help along the way.
“We paid £810 for the car which we found, after some digging, on eBay. It is surprisingly hard to find cars that small as they’re ideal for learners, not usually something that is being driven halfway round the world!
“She’s an ideal car for the rally and fits the rules but is also in good shape. We were careful to go through the service history to make sure there were no major dramas. We want to be able to get through at least Europe comfortably. Soon to be added will be spot lights, raised suspension, a sump guard and all rally-related logos.”
He added: “It is a charity rally and we are looking to raise at least £1,000; so far we’ve raised £770.”
Good causes which will benefit are: Help for Heroes, which aids service personnel who have sustained illnesses and injuries; The Brain Tumour Charity, which is fighting brain tumours through research; and Cool Earth, the official rally charity, which works alongside indigenous populations to halt rainforest destruction.
Charlie said: “Since leaving Loretto in 2012 I have graduated from Newcastle University, joined the Army Reserves and will be starting on the Civil Service Fast Stream this September.
“Loretto really equipped me with a confidence and sense of adventure that has helped me enormously.”
Designed to be a true adventure, the Mongol Rally is one of eight extreme travel charity challenges on offer by events organiser The Adventurists. Those taking part will have no back-up, no support and there is no set route to follow, so they will have to rely solely on themselves, their companions and a rally-style car.
Leaving on Sunday, July 16, their motoring adventure will take them through 20 different countries. The route will feature a variety of tough terrains, environments and extreme weather conditions, most notably in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
Charlie said: “At the moment it is all about squaring away administration, lots and lots of visas, and trying to raise as much money as possible, both for our fantastic charities and through corporate sponsorship.
“I’m not worried about the trip, though I can’t say the same for my mum!
“The Mongol Rally has a really supportive community; even if you’ve broken down in the middle of Uzbekistan, chances are you’ll find someone else on the rally to help.
“We’re also looking forward to being able to visit all these amazing places that you’d never normally visit, be it taking a ferry across the Caspian Sea or driving along the Pamir Highway through Tajikistan – or the M41 as the locals call it. Above all, we both can’t wait to get started as it’s something we’ve both been dreaming about since before we could drive – the ultimate Top Gear road trip on a shoestring.”
Charlie and Dom’s fundraising page is: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/nowherefast and their blog is at: teamnowherefast.wordpress.com