Prasana’s great adventure

Prasana’s great adventure

Prasana Uthayakumar (OE 2003-10) is taking the journey of a lifetime this summer – a road rally from London to Ulaanbaatar.

He is one of a team of four students at Southampton University participating in the Mongol Rally, which involves a 10,000-12,000 mile journey to the Mongolian capital (also known as Ulan Bator).

Prasana says: “We’re hoping to spend our summer travelling through 24 countries from as far south as Iran to as far north as Russia. This task will be no mean feat and we will push not only our physical endurance but also our mental strength.

“Our aim is to promote awareness for WaterAid and Cool Earth – two charities we all feel extremely passionate about and trust will make a difference to the world.” He is appealing for donations and sponsorship.

Prasana, who is studying Mechanical Engineering, is currently in his fourth year. He is due to gain his MEng integrated Master’s degree in July. “The personal skills I gained from QE have honestly been invaluable to me, and I think they have helped me throughout university.”

The team were leaving from Battersea Park in their old Skoda Fabia estate on 20th July. “The other three all study Physics, so I’m apparently the one who’s meant to know all about cars when, or if, we break down!” says Prasana.

About 200 other teams are taking part. The rally is organised by The Adventurists, a group organising various arduous challenges around the world. “They only help with the organisation up to the start date: there will be no back-up cars, no set route, and no assistance from anyone once we depart,” explains Prasana. “The hardest part about this rally is that once we leave, we’re completely independent, and we choose our own route to make it to Ulaanbataar, befriending as many people as we can on the way, and using maps only to get there.

“Our current route is as follows: Leave London, and drive straight to Prague, and then go back down through Munich, into Austria, Switzerland, through the Swiss Alps, into northern Italy. Then travel across northern Italy from Milan to Venice, through Slovenia, pop to the beautiful sandy beaches of Croatia, then back up into Budapest, Hungary. From here, our plan is to go to Romania and do the Transfagarasan Highway (voted the best road in the world on the BBC’s Top Gear programme), and then drive through Bulgaria into Turkey. We’re hoping to reach Istanbul within two weeks of departure.

“From Istanbul, our plan is to go across Turkey, through Georgia, over the Caspian Sea into Russia. From here it’s all dirt tracks and sandy highways as we enter Kazakhstan – Uzbekistan – Tajikistan – Kyrgyzstan, along the infamous Pamir Highway lying on the Silk Road bordering Afghanistan and the beautiful Pamir mountains. We then enter Kazakhstan again, and make it to the Mongolian border. Upon entering Mongolia, our plan is to work our way through complete off-road terrain to finally make it to Ulaanbaatar, where the finish line is.

“Throughout the rally, we may stay in a few hostels where we can, but to save money, and for convenience, we are going to camp or sleep in the car for the majority of the time. The total journey is about 12,000 miles, and should take up until the start of September to complete.

“We’re taking professional cameras and GoPro video cameras with us to capture the whole journey, with the aim of making a professional documentary of the whole trip.”

Immediately upon his return to the UK, Prasana plans to take up a job offer at Jaguar Land Rover as a manufacturing engineer on the company’s graduate scheme. “My plan is to achieve Engineering Chartership (CEng) in the next four years through the company.”