Sunaina Pamudurthy, Binoy John and Bhairav Kuttaiah, three friends in the age group of about 22-25 years, have successfully completed one of the toughest long distance rally in the world, and that too in a Tata Nano Twist.
The trio and Nano drove across 13 countries, 5 mountain ranges and 3 river crossings besides the massive Mongolian desert all in an effort to raise funds and awareness for children in Indian shelters.
Their choice of a vehicle had engineers and specialists in the auto industry in a quandary as to whether such a feat could be a success, but the trio put such negative speculation to the test and emerged victorious.
The 48-day schedule from London to Mongolia was first heard off by Kuttaiah. A criminal lawyer by profession, Kuttaiah roped in Pamudurthy and John. The three are college mates and close friends besides avid rally aficionados and have taken part in the Singapore Grand Prix last year.
In order to participate in the Mongol Rally, you need to have a vehicle which is powered by a engine smaller than 1,000 cc. This led the friends unanimously point their finger in the direction of Tata Nano. With the team and car decided, the trio named themselves as the NanoMADs. They are the first Indian team to participate in Mongol Rally with an Indian car.
Various modifications were made to the Tata Nano to ensure its performance in the rally. These modifications included sump guards on the engine and fuel tank besides a Global Positioning System tracker to guide them through unknown territory. A 300 liter roof box for storage of travel equipment and a 22 liter jerry car for storage of fuel was also part of the changes made to the Nano.
The 2 month long Mongol Rally is an annual affair. It brings people from different parts of the world together, for a greater cause – raise atleast GBP 1,000 (INR 1 lakh approx) for charity. All teams must generate that much funds. NanoMADs decided on generating funds for MAD (Make A Difference, an organization which provides shelter for under privileged children).
The rally starts from London, and goes through France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia to finally reach Mongolia.
Below is their journey in images.
On our way to Bologna, we took to country roads again to avoid the tolled Autostrada and ended up driving through the Apennine mountains of Italy! With a little extra time on our hands, this gave us the opportunity to visit a little town called Imola – home to a racetrack named after the founder of Ferrari and his son.
We walked the track which was eerily silent, but it wasn’t hard to imagine why they used to say, ‘The hills are alive with the sound of the Tifosi’ Oops. We apparently overlooked a No Entry sign and drove right to the Two Towers in Bologna and got pulled over by the cops!
We got away without paying a heavy fine only because our documentation was in place and the sheer amusement the cops had for the Nano 🙂
What started off as a tense situation ended with the Italian Police entertained with our story of driving from London to Mongolia! Fuelling up in Italy, our fifth country on this journey.
The sun is setting and we still don’t know where our next stop will be. These are the kinds of things that any adventurer secretly hopes for. On our way to Italy. Checking out of Austria, driving through the country roads lets you experience all the little towns and villages along the way and this was one spot we just had to stop at to add to our list of memories! Every time we drive into a new city, it takes a while to adjust to the local rules of the road and inevitably we manage to break a few. Prague was no different – we ended up being boxed in by three trams while driving through the city center and we may have caused a bit of confusion. Thankfully the cops chose to look the other way 🙂
A beautiful city with lovely people – Wish we could have stayed longer! This is a picture that was sent to us by Francisco Javier from Zaragoza in Spain, who found the Nano and somehow got in touch. His email read ‘Thanks for taking care of those children.’ Ran into other teams at passport control Settling down for the night. Finding a garage in the middle of nowhere is such a sight for sore eyes. New day. New terrain. That’s how a Rally Nano looks like post sunset. 1000 kms to Mongolia!!!
After driving through 3 nights straight from Kazan and taking turns to sleep, DJ and drive, we’ve made it till here Mongolia sure knows how to give us a mud bath.
The route –
London to Milan
Milan to Chelyabinsk
Prague (Czech Republic)
Chelyabinsk to Ulan Ude
For a detailed travelogue, please visit their Facebook page – NanoMADs and if you want to donate to their cause, here is their website.