From Newbridge to Russia in a Micra, three Irish men finish Mongol Rally

Friends said there were more bumps along the 19,000km road than anticipated


Not many people can say they drove from Newbridge in Co Kildare to Russia, but even fewer people can say they did it in a 1 litre Nissan Micra.

Patrick Kavanagh, Cian Rea and John Finn, three 23-year-olds from Kildare, spent the last 59 days on the road in their beloved car, Audrey, as they took on the Mongol Rally and raced across Europe.

The Rally is an international charitable event which involves driving from Prague to Ulan Ude in Russia in a 1 litre engine car, with thousands of participants coming from across the globe. The event began on July 18th and finished on Saturday September 14th. There is no assigned route and competitors map their own way across the continent.

The three friends described the 19,000km challenge as an adventure of a lifetime, but said there were more bumps along the road than they had anticipated.

“We did the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, the second highest highway in the world. It peaks at about 4,655 metres. We were driving around and we realised that we had a crack in our breakline. We had to drive for about 150km with no break essentially. That was pretty scary,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“Other than that, we had one tyre replacement, smashed one of our passenger windows one of the days. That was kind of our own fault, we were just throwing rocks at each other and we ended up smashing the window. Other than that, it all went pretty good anyway. We all have our health,” he added.

The three childhood friends, whose team name was Mon We Golia, said that while there were a few car issues throughout the journey, there were far more ‘pinch me’ moments along the way.

The trio visited a number of countries including Armenia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, but they said Iran was their favourite because of the hospitality of the locals.

“The three of us loved Iran in particular, and just how friendly people were. Once we were driving along and one guy wound down his window and handed us a pickle through the window,” Mr Kavanagh said. “We got invited back to people’s houses, we had meals paid for, people coming over to us in the streets to take photos, people shouting at us.”

Patrick Kavanagh, Cian Rea and John Finn spent the last 59 days on the road
Patrick Kavanagh, Cian Rea and John Finn spent the last 59 days on the road

They also rode on the world’s largest indoor ferris wheel in Turkmenistan, which they said was completely empty other than themselves.

Mr Finn said: “There were loads of memories and things like that but even sometimes we would be driving, and you’d have to catch yourself and realise that you’re in the middle of the most amazing scenery in the world here.”

Mr Rea added: “It’s actually still hard to wrap our heads around it. It was a mind boggling experience.”

The team has already raised around €6,500 for the Irish Cancer Society and the rally’s designated charity Cool Earth. They are continuing to raise funds for their chosen charity as the three guys say it is an issue “close to our hearts”.

“It [CANCER]affects all of our families either directly or indirectly so we said we’d be happy to make money for it,” Mr Kavanagh said.

Despite completing the race last weekend, the trio said they’re not ready to finish just yet and plan to drive across Russia before getting a ferry to Japan to watch the Rugby World Cup.

Patrick Kavanagh, Cian Rea and John Finn spent the last 59 days on the road
Patrick Kavanagh, Cian Rea and John Finn spent the last 59 days on the road

“Audrey is still running and we haven’t killed each other yet so we are driving across Russia and will get a ferry to Japan to follow the Irish team at the Rugby World Cup. We’re going to try and catch a few matches from that,” Mr Rea said.