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#Forthespirited: Silent Pool Gin and the Mongol Rally - Part Two

Posted by Silent Pool Distillers on 18th Nov 2021

#Forthespirited: Silent Pool Gin and the Mongol Rally - Part Two

Part two: We did it!

Our Silent Pool Gin VW Polo, driven by expedition leader John Griffiths, has crossed the finish line of the epic epic Mongol Rally having driven 10,000 miles through seven time zones.

The 18 year old car was prepared by students from The GASP Motor Project and has journeyed across terrain that is so demanding that fewer than 25% of the cars in the rally manage to finish.

Resplendent in Silent Pool Gin colours, the car left the distillery on July 19th and has since tackled rugged terrain, mountains, hairpins, gorges, deserts and endless potholes.

On the first day alone the team drove through France, Belgium and into Germany. By the 21st they had reached Prague ready to start the rally officially on July 22nd.

They travelled through Bratislava and on to Budapest before pushing on into Romania, enjoying the sight of wild bears and driving the Transfagarasan mountain road, the most scenic road in the world. 

A short break for the Mongol Rally Beach Party was followed by a ten hour drive into Turkey and Istanbul, arriving at this beautiful city as the sun set.

Next stage saw the team driving to Cappadocia where, having parked the car safely, they enjoyed a hot-air balloon ride at sunrise over the mountains (accompanied by a bottle of Silent Pool Gin, of course).

When the team turned up at one of their scheduled campsites - on the shores of the Black Sea - only to find it didn’t exist, they managed to persuade a local resident to let them camp on his land. They played Backgammon and the next day the landowner treated them to breakfast, refusing any payment. He is, therefore, now the proud owner of a Silent Pool Gin cap.

The team drove into Georgia and the capital city Tbilisi, resplendent with Roman walls and historic buildings. They drove on over flat, dusty planes to Baku in the hope of catching a ferry to Turkmenistan but soon realised their best option if they were to stick to the timetable was to sail to Kazakhstan instead. The crossing, which should have taken 25 hours, eventually took 40 hours to complete, and all in 40 degree heat. Bureaucracy in Kazakhstan meant the team needed to collect 8 different official stamps before they could leave the border - including a stamp to say they had all the other stamps.

Driving on into Uzbekistan, and the team were met with 150km of ‘catergory 5’ roads - those of such poor quality that often the only option is to drive across a neighbouring field instead! The local family they stayed with that night supplied food and water, but again refused any payment and instead invited the team to a local wedding. The rally timetable meant this offer had to be declined, but another Silent Pool Cap found a new home as a result.

By the 8th of August the team arrived in Tashkent, stopping briefly to enjoy the beauty of Samarkand. On the 9th they left Uzbekistan and drove to Alamaty in Turkmenistan, one of the best drives of the whole trip through amazing scenery, and on to Kazakhstan.

The condition of the roads deteriorated again, and our trusty car suffered damage to the shock absorbers, roof rack and even the petrol tank. Repairs took much of the next day to complete, but at a charge of just £40 including parts and labour.

Back on the road, the team crossed into Mongolia, with a seven hour wait at the border. The roads were really taking their toll on our little car by now but a kitchen sink bolt - packed by in the UK by John at the last minute - managed to hold the loose parts together until a more sturdy repair could be secured. The road to Ulaan Baatar delivered 200km of challenging driving conditions and thunder storms that got the better of many of the rally teams, but our team managed to push on across the border into Russia and finally, on 18th August, on to Ulan Ude and the finish line.

Our team were thrilled to be placed 15th out of 550 teams who started the rally. They will be back in the UK in four weeks time: rest assured they are driving a much easier route home!

Sponsors include John’s company Kisters, and Hyquest. The team will also raise money for Bowel Cancer UK and the Cool Earth Fund.

#forthespirited #rallyforthespirited