Three teenage fundraisers have set out on the epic Mongol Rally – one of the world’s most testing driving challenges – in a clapped out Renault Clio with a black box telematics device fitted to monitor their safe driving.
Trio tackle ultimate road trip
The black box telematics device will track them every step of the way on their ultimate road trip as they travel 10,000 miles through some of the toughest and least hospitable terrain imaginable.
The route will take them from Prague in the Czech Republic, through Iran and Mongolia and then on to Ulan Ude in Siberia.
The intrepid fundraisers, who were studying A levels together at Oundle School in Peterborough just last year, are Oliver Frisby, James Keane and Josh Allen.
The trio call themselves “Livin on a Spare” and decided to sign up for the Mongol Rally to raise money for the Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough where Oliver’s grandfather was cared for by staff.
Half of the money raised by the team will go to Sue Ryder, while the other half will go to Cool Earth, a charity which is working against the destruction of the rainforest.
Rally crosses desserts and mountains
The Mongol Rally is described by organisers as the “Greatest Adventure in the World” and sees on average a 70% completion rate as it winds its way across deserts, over mountains and along testing road surfaces.
There are three basic rules of the Mongol Rally: Vehicles must have an engine of 1200cc or less, rally teams must complete the rally unsupported and they have to raise a minimum of £1,000 for charity – Livin on a Spare have already raised more than £2,600.
Organisers are also keen to point out that “racing on highways is illegal” – and the young team’s black box telematics device will log their speeds and record any indiscretions.
Cheaper insurance thanks to black box telematics
To take part in the rally they paid less than £1,000 for “Joanne”, a 17-year-old Clio with 125,000 miles on the clock.
iTelematiX supported the event by offering them a black box telematics device – not the usual kit considered for this sort of extreme motoring challenge – but it was an opportunity to do a good deed and put the smart box through the most strenuous field test possible.
Data is transmitted from the black box telematics device via an international network roaming sim – it is programmed to automatically pick up any network in any country at any time.
iTelematiX Technology Director Bryn Aldridge explained: “This was the perfect way to help the lads raise money for their charity, and test our equipment in the most arduous environment possible.
“The journey will be incredibly hot and dusty and they will be bouncing around because the roads will be very bumpy. It’s the perfect field test.”
Black box transmissions stalled in Iran
But the test hasn’t gone without hiccups. Bryn revealed: “Initially the black box was tracking their movements through extreme places like Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, just as clearly as it would if they were driving through the streets of London.
“But the telematics device stopped when they crossed into Iran because there is a countrywide block on transmitting data from the country.
“They have another two or three days to drive through Iran before they cross the border into Turkmenistan and the smart box will start transmitting again.”
The equipment provided by iTelematiX will provide peace of mind for the boys’ parents too as they can also check progress being made throughout the rally as it logs details such as speed, miles covered and length of time driving.
The black box telematics system even sends an alert and location details if the boys are involved in a prang and there is an “emergency” red button in case they break down or need other assistance. This will connect them to a call centre where operators will know their location and can help advise them on what to do.
Helping keep the cost of insurance down for newly qualified and less experienced drivers, black box telematics devices make great sense and are fitted to more than half a million cars (2016).
‘No rally experience and no mechanical knowledge’
None of the boys have taken part in a rally before and none of them have a great deal of mechanical knowledge so keeping the Clio running for 10,000 miles will be quite a challenge.
One of the biggest concerns will be whether the car can keep up with the change in terrain as they will be driving over every type of landscape, apart from snow, and many of the roads in Mongolia are unclassified.
Another big question will be which breaks first, the Clio of the team’s patience with each other as living in such close proximity for the entirety of the rally will be a severe test of their friendship.
The boys will certainly be taken out of their comfort zone but, despite the difficulties, the rally promises much to look forward to.
Trio must finish Mongol Rally in time for uni in September
The trio set out from Prague on July 21 and they should arrive in the Ulan Ude, which is on the famous Trans Siberian Railway but was closed to foreigners until 1991, around August 14. However, allowing for all eventualities, the actually rally closes in the middle of September.
But whatever happens, they will have to be back in time for the start of university in September.
Via mid-rally email, James Keane said: “The rally is going great and team morale is high!
“We have made our way through to Uzbekistan, have just been swimming in a river with some locals. We are in a convoy with a few other teams which we met in Iran. They are all of a similar age and are a great laugh.
“Highlights so far have been an 8 day tour around Iran, which saw us head far into the south. They are the most hospitable people yet! A very different experience to what we were expecting.
“Turkmenistan was also an incredible experience. Camping by the Darvaza gas crater is something we will never forget. We definitely put our car through it’s paces with the 8km drive featuring constant dunes and sand tracks.
“The tracker has worked a dream. Giving our worrying Mums peace of mind back home. Hopefully we will never have to use the panic buttons, but it’s very reassuring to have it there.
“Our aim is to finish in Ulan-Ude (Siberia) on the 26th of August. That evening there is a finishing party hosted by the organisers to wrap things up. ”
Follow the team’s progress on the Mongol Rally
The route will take them through 24 countries in continental Europe and all manner of more exotic Asian destinations including Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
If you are looking for specialist European banger rally insurance – with or without the security of a iTelematiX black box telematics device being fitted – look no further than HIC, which is part of the Adrian Flux insurance group.