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Mongol Rally No Match For Local Latte Maker

By Fleur Castelreagh on November 24, 2011 in News

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When you take a look at the Mongol Rally handbook it reads:

Your chances of being seriously injured or dying as a result of taking part are high. Individuals who have taken part in past Adventurists’ adventures have been permanently disfigured, seriously disabled or lost their life.

These are not exactly the most comforting words when you are thinking of taking on a big, new adventure, but for Felix Clark it was exactly what he was looking for.

Felix lives in Bondi and has run Bellagio cafe Charing Cross for the past seven years.

Having completed the Kokoda Trail in 2009, Felix was searching for a new challenge and the Mongol Rally ticked all the boxes, combining his love of exploring the globe with some charity work that he had been hoping to undertake. So in July this year he set off with his great mate Chris Evans.

“In this race I could kill two birds with one stone: see the world and make a difference by raising funds for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF),” said Felix.

CNCF is dedicated to serving children in need of emergency and long-term medical care, nutritional rehabilitation, educational opportunities, job placement and protecting those at risk of economic and social exploitation.

The rally involved driving a car that had an embarrassingly small engine (the equivalent of a Holden Barina) from London, through twenty countries, to Mongolia.

The estimated distance of the rally is 16,000 kilometres and it has to be completed in under six weeks, which can be tough due to the rugged terrain and difficult border crossings.

“We took the southern route through Iran and Central Asia. The route chose itself. We thought about the most interesting way and the most difficult, no Lonely Planet Guides,” said Felix.

It certainly was an interesting path, and using just a compass and a few maps, Felix and Chris made their way through some of the toughest terrain in the world.

“The roads were the worst in Mongolia. There were potholes so big that you could sit in them. The cars were getting air off the holes,” Felix explained.

The journey took many twists and turns but the real drama began in Turkmenistan when the front suspension blew out. The boys managed to get the car fixed but they replaced the suspension with truck springs, raising the front of the car up a significant amount.

Next the clutch went, but with the help of a 16 year-old teenager who appeared to be the town ‘mechanic’ they were able to get the car back on the road once again.

The comedy of errors continued In Kazakhstan when the clutch went for a second time, but by this stage Felix and Chris had given up trying to fix it and drove on. Shortly afterwards, the rear suspension went and a DIY style fix-up was necessary to keep the car on the road.

“Not knowing anything about cars previously and seeing how the guy did it in Turkmenistan I managed to find a truck spring again in one of the markets using charades and sign language. I found someone with an angle grinder and cut it down and ended up seating it in the wheel with the heal of a shoe that I had whittled down,” Felix laughed.

The trip involved some hairy border crossings, delicious cuisine including ‘horse in a can’, a fleecing in Istanbul and many other once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

All the drama was well worth it and six weeks after they began their journey Felix and Chris arrived at their destination in Mongolia, where they were able to visit an orphanage run by the charity that the rally was supporting, a definite highlight for the boys.

“There were about 400 teams and we all raised 430,000 pounds between us for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation. At the end of the rally we got to see the kids and see where the money we raised was going, which was great, ” said Felix.

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