Drive an old car from the Czech Republic via Mongolia to Siberia to collect donations for the rainforest? Elina Liukkonen, who works at HELUKABEL subsidiary Balzer Kabel in Meissen, drove a total of 17,398 miles through 22 countries with her colleague Herman Lange as part of the “Mongol Rally”. “We’d been dreaming about doing this for years,” says Liukkonen. In 2018, her boss gave her three months’ leave to do so. The rules of the rally are: the car can’t be a new one, and its engine size mustn’t exceed 1.2 litres. At least 1,140 euros also had to be donated to charity beforehand.
“We were always fortunate enough to find someone who could help us.”Elina Liukkonen
“Both HELUKABEL Netherlands and Balzer Kabel sponsored us with 1,000 euros each for ‘Cool Earth,’ an organization that saves rainforests,” says Liukkonen. The start (Prague) and finish (Ulan-Ude, Siberia) of the rally were fixed but the drivers were free to choose their own route. They drove through Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and Tajikistan, and on their way back through Russia and Finland in a 1995 VW Polo. “We knew we were going to have mechanical problems with this car! But it’s not a race, it’s an adventure.” And that was indeed what it was: four times their car nearly came to a grinding halt. But even in the loneliest of places, luck was on their side. Liukkonen recalls, “We were always fortunate enough to find someone who could help us.”