Charity drive from England to Russia

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Heading north . . . Dunedin friends Josh Brinkmann (left) and Luke Gardener are set to head north for the winter to drive a compact car about 20,000km between England and Russia in the Mongol Rally to raise funds for conservation organisations Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust and Cool Earth. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A Dunedin duo are donning penguin suits as they prepare to take on the Mongol Rally.

Josh Brinkmann and Luke Gardener were both born and raised in Dunedin and met as members of the Otago University Tramping Club.

‘‘Josh thinks the best route is in a straight line, which has led us into some pretty horrific situations,’’ Mr Gardener laughed.

The next adventure for the friends is the Mongol Rally — an intercontinental car rally which begins in the Czech Republic on July 22.

The rally finish line opens in Russia on August 14 and closes on September 16.
Rules state the engine of a rally car must be 1000cc or under, Mr Gardener said.

‘‘They don’t want it to be too easy because it wouldn’t be much fun doing it in a Toyota Hilux.’’

Teams cannot have a support crew and must raise at least £1000 ($1940) for charity.

Both men will drive a compact car about 20,000km across 20 countries dressed as penguins to raise funds for conservation organisations The Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust and Cool Earth.

Temperatures were expected to reach up to 40degC so wearing fleece onesies would be a challenge, Mr Gardener said.

The sweaty situation would be used to highlight the issue of heat stress in penguins, Mr Gardener said with a laugh.

Mr Brinkmann, who works as a land surveyor, said the rally had been on his bucket list for a long time.

‘‘I thought, bugger it, I’m going to do it and there is no time like the present’’.

‘‘And I was the only friend stupid enough to follow him.’’ Mr Gardener, a forestry officer, said.

The friends plan to buy a rally car in London, most likely something manufactured in Japan or Korea, such as a Hyundai Getz, Toyota Yaris, or Nissan Micra, as parts for these vehicles were easier to find in Central Asia.

The pair intended to modify their car, including installing a sump guard, Mr Gardener said.

‘‘We may jam the suspension with tennis balls to stiffen it up.’’

Mr Gardener said he had ‘‘no mechanical skills whatsoever’’.

Mr Brinkmann said he discovered how to fix a car by owning six unreliable vehicles.

‘‘I learnt a fair bit.’’

Some of the about 300 teams entered in the rally would fail to finish the rally but the pair would not be among them, Mr Brinkmann said.

‘‘We are bloody-minded’’ ★ To give: givealittle.co.nz/cause/thepenguinexpress