A FORMER Cheltenham schoolboy has set off on the motoring challenge of a life-time. Hamish Baillie, who left Cheltenham College three years ago, is taking part in the Mongol Rally 2012 together with university pals Will Thompson and Jack Bilinski. Driving a Skoda Fabia 1.2 estate, the intrepid trio will travel 10,000 miles from Cheltenham to Ulan Bator in Mongolia.
They are hoping to raise £10,000, which will be split between Help For Heroes and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Hamish, 21, said “We all had the summer off and wanted to do something different. We thought this would be ideal. “It should be a real adventure and I’m sure we will see some amazing sights along the way.”
Dubbing themselves Team El Nino, the Bristol University students set out from Hamish’s home, in St Stephan’s Road, and are currently en route to a checkpoint in the Czech Republic.
From there, they will continue into the unknown terrain of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan before going “off-road” into Mongolia.
Hamish added: “The roads pretty much disappear when we get to Mongolia and it will just be a case of finding a route wherever we can.
“But we are all experienced with cars and will be able to make any repairs, if needed, along the way.
“We have picked two fantastic causes to support, so we are hoping to raise as much money as we can. Any donations would be much appreciated.”
Cars taking part in the rally, which has been running since 2004, traditionally have to be below a 1,300cc engine capacity.
Challenge Motors, in King Alfred Way, helped the team make final preparations to the vehicle.
Garage owner, Rob Connell, said: “We ran a full service on it and replaced the clutch, so the car is in good shape. “I have no idea how bad terrain will be, but we have given them some special equipment in case of emergencies.” To find out more about the trip and to sponsor Team El Nino, go to www.elnino-mon-golrally.co.uk.