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Rallying to the cause: team heads for Siberia

Grand effort – intrepid friends take part in charity race

07 February, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Team ‘Sounds Like a Plan’, from left: Freddie Orr, Kit Garnett and Jake Dark

AN ISLINGTON lawyer is taking a break from the rat race to drive a rusty Hyundai named Max across continents in an epic charity challenge.

Team “Sounds like a Planistan”, comprising Finsbury Park corporate lawyer Jake Dark, 25, and his friends Freddie Orr and Kit Garnett, are gearing up to take on the infamous Mongol Rally this summer.

Setting out from Bletchley Park in July, the team is aiming to cover almost 1,000 miles in two months, crossing mountain ranges, deserts and steppe in a scramble to reach the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude.

The rules of the Mongol Rally mean each team entering can only spend a maximum of £1,000 on their car. The number of teams making it to the end of the race is usually around 70 per cent.

After setting off in their £600 banger, Sounds like a Planistan will race to Prague to make an official start party the next day. Guests of honour include the Ambassador of Turkmenistan.

The team will then make their way across the continent to Uzbekistan.

From there they will take on the treacherous Pamir Highway, skirting the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, before rattling across Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia on their way to the remote Outer Mongolia steppe.

“It’s still a nomadic society in Outer Mongolia,” said Mr Dark, of Isledon Road.

“There are no cities or towns, and very few smaller settlements. So we’ll be camping with the car as we make our way to the Mongolian capital.”

After crossing most of Mongolia to reach Ulaanbaatar, hopefully with Max in one piece, the team will head north to the finish at Ulan-Ude.

“There’s a hefty import tax if you leave the car in Mongolia, so the rally finishes just over the border in Russia,” said Mr Dark. “The car we bought has already failed one MOT, and we may have to change it before we start as the president of Turkmenistan has banned black cars from the capital out of superstition.”

He added: “The nerves really comes in waves. Some days, I just can’t wait. Other days the sheer amount of organisation involved is pretty overwhelming.

“And on other days it’s a bit scary to think of managing all the different circumstances we might come across.”

The team is raising money for Cool Earth, which fights deforestation, and Sierra Leone War Trust, which supports orphans in the African country. They are hoping to raise £1,000 for each charity.

You can find out more information, donate money or sponsor the team by visiting www.teamplanistan.com

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