Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Redditch Special Stage One

We've just taken the Panda out on it's first rally style test. A bit like a pre-Mongol Rally Shakedown. It's been thundering and raining most of the afternoon out here, and the back roads are strewn with mud, water and fallen bits of tree. Rich knows an awesome stretch of road from his house to The Peacock. It's about 2.4 miles each way so we took it in turns to blast the Panda along twisty paths that don't seem wide enough for anything bigger than our little Fiat. Low lying mist meant we had to use our full range of lighting options. OK so we were only going about 50mph but the scale of the car and roads more than made up for it. As an added bonus our newly wired stereo gives off a whining jet engine style feedback that raises in pitch with the speed of the engine. Together with the new air filter and the wailing off-road tyres it sounded almost like a proper rally car. Now all we have to do is work out how to make the exhaust backfire and pop as we slow down to swing round corners.
If driving in this country can be shown to be so much fun I can't wait to hit the roads in Mongolia.


Thanks to Tanya at Atomiza, we no longer have any hygiene concerns for the trip. Thanks to the chemical sprayer donated by Atomiza (modelled below)....we have our very own in-car shower.

Its a shower, not a bomb!

Tanya also, really kindly provide 6 chamois leathers for drying off, all personalised with the drivers names. How sweet is that. Check out the 'sponsors' section to find out more about Atomiza, or visit their website here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


With 'the off' getting ever nearer, and our car finally working, our minds shifted from a constant stream of repairs to the pressing matter of 'spares'. In stepped Motormania - who were simply excellent in providing us with an array of goodies to keep us running on our quest for eastern glory. A giant box-load of spares landed on my doorstep, including loads of spare bulbs for the lights, wind-up torches, puncture repair kits, a breakdown kit and more. Not only this, but they sent enough for all 3 pandas in the team. Thanks so much to Chris at Motormania who made this possible. Check out their website. They do loads of parts, spares and gadgets.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Okay. So we're going to be sitting in a hot car 24/7 for 4 weeks. The car will be full of fumes (petrol and ourselves). We'll have the constant humming of our tyres, rattling of the gearbox and be bumping over dodgy terrain all day long. We'll probably not be the healthiest of souls. And so to our rescue comes with a really kind offer of a pharmaceutical pack. Jenny at expresschemist really kindly put together a pack of paracetemol, bite cream, plasters, antiseptic wipes, diarrohea stuff (heaven forbid) and pro-plus. The perfect survival pack. Thank you so much.

Friday, June 24, 2005


The panda is coming together nicely now.
First I have dismantled the interior, disposed of the rear seats, added a second battery and a split charge system (pics to follow). I have also started to wire everything up - what a mess! I have placed new switches on the dash to control all the lights, radiator cooling fan, etc. Everything bar the engine and standard lights will run off the second battery (mounted behind the drivers seat). This means we can use the stereo, our fluorecent interior lights, cig lighter, spot lights and possibly an invertor without draining the main battery.
A lot of the logo stickers have now arrived and some have been applied (thanks to Darren @ Custom-Graphics).
The roofrack is finally in place after a lot of cutting, drilling and general bodging it seems solid enough - I hope the 12 holes drilled staright throught the roof don't leak!
Still to do - finish wiring, get some new tyres, finish applying logos and give car a service and only 30 odd days to go!





Saturday, June 18, 2005

Balance Motorsport

It seems ages ago now when we found out our front shocks looked a bit suspect. I sent a few emails out and Julian at Balance Motorsport got in touch. He really kindly offered a set of Bilstein front shocks. What with all the breakdowns we've had it took us a while to get the Panda roadworthy enough to go see him. We decided this weekend would be a great opportunity to give the Panda another road test and to go see Julian. So we set off on a 400 mile round trip from Birmingham to Sussex.

It's been a really gorgeous day, and with the sun streaming and a temp of 31c it was a bit of a warm up for the 40c temps in Uzbekistan. We found Balance Motorsport and Julian wasted no time in striiping the old shocks off.

I think he had plans to settle down in front of the telly to watch the Le Mans 24hr with a few friends and a barbie. Unfortunately he hadn't factored in any embuggurance time that always seems to rear it's ugly head when working on the pad. First we reliased the dust sleeves were in tatters. A few quick phone calls established that the only replacements were in Warrington so this was not really an option. In true Mongol Rally style Julian did an amazing bodge job on the old sleeves with superglue and this tar like stuff. He'll hate me for telling you about this because its not up to his usual high standards, but this was a case of needs must.
I'm not even going to mention the whole drama with the different sized bolt holes in the new schocks. I'm just going to gloss over it. It was a matter of minutes before the Panda was back on the road, now with a much better chance of staying on it. The old shocks were literally useless, this explained why the car bounced and took off over every bump we hit. The springs were taking all the stress and they simply would not have survived the rally.

Thanks a lot Julian for all your help. Amazing work.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Blue, white and green - and proud

Team Mongolian Job is proud to have its full compliment of 3 cars, all Pandas and in the dashing colours of blue, white and green. Those of you who have seen The Italian Job will remember the dashing combination of 'red, white and blue' but for this adventure across Europe and Asia - our chosen colours are far more significant.

We leave from the port of Dover - which has its own flag - sporting our colour scheme.

Dover flag

On our route, our colour scheme will earn the respect of the Russians - as it matches the colours on the flag of the Russian Frontier Guards.

Russian Guard flag

And any fears of trouble in Uzbekistan en route are not necessary for us either, as Team Mongolian Job proudly sports the colours of its National Flag.

Uzbek flag

Monday, June 13, 2005

P P P Pimp Up A P P P Panda!!!

This weekend Rich and I decided that it was not good enough just believing our Panda is a race car. It needs to look like a race car. No self-respecting race car comes with the factory paint job, so we decided it was time to customise.
So after a bit of this...

and a bit of this....

we managed to get it looking like this...

Now we're pretty happy with this. Note the Range Rover inspired floating roof (blacked out pillars), and the slimming horizontal lines under the skirting. Not to mention that now it looks three times more like a Panda than it used to.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Decent Press Coverage at Last

We finally made it in to the press with a decent article. It is on the front page and page 3. It is too big to upload on to here but if you click the link below:

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The White Panda Returns

Went to pick up our Panda last night. Apparently the constant stalling was due to a faulty sender unit. So Tom chucked a new distributor in and now it runs almost as well as when we first bought it. In my excitement I took it to the shop and spoiled it with some presents (more lights). In return this morning it has transported me to get the first of my injections, without breaking down at all. I now have lots of tetanus, polio, diptheria and hep b germs racing around inside me.
It's great to have it back, Rich and I had real withdrawal symptoms over the past couple of weeks. As a result this weekend, we are going to modify thehell out of it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Press Release!

My mother is so good to me! I have just been home in Yorkshire for a couple of days, mainly to pick the Panda up. Anyway, whilst talking to my mother she reckoned she could get our story in the local papers. I was not hopeful. Anyway, 10 mins later it was all sorted. Our story in 4 local papers - North Yorkshire. I couldnt believe it! So, photos, interviews and everything. It will be out on Friday and will be a big article - 1/2 to full page. Whats more, they said they would really plug our existing sponsors and beg for more. There are actually going to print our current sponsors and thank them whilst asking for more! They are also going to advertise the website. Another bonus is, they will do a follow up story in 6 weeks time, by which time the car will be all stickered up and we should be a lot more organised! Things are starting to happen at last! Thanks Mum!

The Car Made it!

Have just covered over 300 miles in out little car. It has behaved faultlessly, cruising on the motorway at 75 mph. Irritating points to note are:

1. The accelerator pedal is far too high for me and hurts my foot!

2. The steering wheel is off centre and must be fixed before I get very annoyed (try holding a panda steering wheel that is off centre!)

3. You have to be gentle with the gearbox, especially third. This is a common and not serious problem though.

4. The stereo does not work - 5 hours in car today with just the wind noise!

5. Unidentified fluid on service station floor - looks to me like just water (not coolant) so hoping it is just water from a puddle. I will keep my eye on it.

6. Neither of the door locks work, so to lock and unlock you have to climb in from the boot.

7. It used around 22 GBP of fuel over 300 miles, which I think is very economical.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Graphics "Mock-Up"

We are getting professional now! The company sponsoring us the graphics have sent the mock-up through. Getting more added to it, "Flames" have been talked about! Anyway, see below. Think it may take me a while to stick all those on!! Got a new sponsor as well who is taking space on the bonnet for our first bit of "Cold hard Cash" for sponsoring - at last!!


All the best plans!

All the best plans never seem to work out! I never made it down to pick the car up on Monday as I was let down by my lift being 4.5 hours late. I felt 5pm was a little late to be setting off down the road. Plan is to get the car next Monday now - will see.

Have been using my time wisely today. I have just secured an MP3 stereo for the journey. Also bought all the components for the split battery charging system and all the wiring required for the extra lights and other electrial modifications. My roofrack arrived (purchased from ebay). Is Aluminuim and a great bargain at £0.99!!

Have just this afternoon e-mailed a local company about sign writing as it looks like I may have been let down by the original comany who promised to do the stickers for free.

I have also got fed up waitng for my letters of invitation for Kazakh and Russia. Apparently as we are taking a car in to Russia the invite has to come from Moscow? I have no idea! Anyway, as time is pressing on now, I decided to do my Mongolian Visa today. So I have sent my passport and form off, along with £45. Will wait to see what arrives!

Not long to go now and a lot of things to do. I wrote a list today and tell you what, it is scary all the paperwork that needs doing.