IF you’ve travelled 18,000 km for six weeks on a perilous journey across 17 countries, including unforgiving deserts and mighty mountain ranges in a car that doesn’t let you down; you are not going to abandon it, are you?
“The Mazda Demio was the third cog in the wheel,” says Killian O’Brien, from east cork, who took part in the Mongol Rally with his friend, Aaron McEvoy,
“So we weren’t going to abandon her. She’s staying put, here at home, she’s like our mascot.”
The Mongol Rally is described as one of the “greatest adventures in the world.” It’s a 10,000-mile adventure across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia each summer in a car with a maximum engine size of 1,200cc.
The lads, both mechanics and rally drivers, raised €3,000 for Pieta House.
“We brought the car home by train,” says Killian. “She served us well. The Mazda was never going to the scrap-yard.
“We got it shipped from Russia to the UK and picked it up from there. Some of the other drivers shipped their rally cars home as well. Others just abandoned their cars.”
The reliable 1999 Mazda Demio has stood the test of time and withstood the wear and tear of thousands and thousands of miles across the world.
It is now residing in O’Brien’s garage, Midleton, awaiting its NCT, so that it can continue to be road-worthy.
“It needs a couple of nights’ bodywork too,” says Killian.
The boys, in their twenties, who had no set route, no backup or support on their epic journey of a lifetime were on their own with their fellow adventurists. Places they thought might prove hostile were welcoming.
“Iran is not as bad a place as we are led to believe,” says Killian.
“The borders were hairy enough, but nothing dangerous happened to us.”
Would the lads tackle such a journey again?
“We’d never say never,” says Killian.
“It wouldn’t be today or tomorrow though. There’s a huge amount of planning and paperwork involved in a trip like the Mongol Rally.
“You have to have clean driving licenses and international permits. But maybe sometime in the future, we’d do it again if the opportunity came up.”
The Mazda Demio is a mighty machine, which was specifically modified to undertake the elements against the open road. In order to take on the Mongol Rally, the car can be no more than 1.2 engine power and must be at least 10 years old.
“We got her in a scrap yard,” says Aaron.
“The car was resurrected on the way to being scrapped. Killian and I re-modelled it. We took out the back seat, put in new flooring and lights. The tyres were commercial van tyres sponsored by Robinson Tyres, Midleton.”
The lads lived in the Mazda for six weeks, an amazing feat in itself.
“Spare parts and spare tyres went on the roof box along with the petrol and oil cans,” says Aaron.
“Some nights we camped out, so we packed a tent, sleeping bags blow up beds, along with a little cooker. Places like Armenia can be pretty cold.” The lads were set for the greatest journey on earth.
What else did they bring?
“Lots and lots of tins of beans!” says Aaron.
Their homework was done to the tee.
“The planning of the journey was full-on for both of us,” says Killian.
“We covered 300 miles per day and we shared the driving every second day from Europe, across Russia, to our destination, Mongolia.”
The young drivers were sponsored for the trip by their employers, O’Brien’s Garage, Midleton, and Fitzgerald’s Commercials, Midleton.
“They were generous in sponsoring us and of course, giving us the time off,” says Killian.
“Pieta House were very appreciative of the money we raised from the trip. They were delighted with us.” The Mazda Demio has pride of place in O’Brien’s Garage Midleton.
“It proves that the Mazda is one reliable car,” says Killian.