Tajik Rally – To Western Asia in a fire service van.

A former Mercedes-Benz fire truck on a road in a desert

Four German adventurers participate in a benefit rally. The highlight: at the end they donate their vehicle.

Ten countries in a maximum of four weeks.

Through ten countries in a maximum of four weeks in a race? Sounds strenuous. Nevertheless, four young adventurers took on this challenge: The men in their mid-30s from south-western Germany took part in the annual Tajik Rally which begins in Germany and ends in Tajikistan. But let's begin at the beginning ...

The route from Munich to Tajikistan takes the travellers through 10 different countries.

The route from Munich to Tajikistan takes the travellers through 10 different countries.

A benefit rally through Western Asia.

The "Tajik Rally" is a benefit race through Asia in which around 25 participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland compete to reach their destination in Dushanbe in Tajikistan without GPS, technical aids and air-conditioned vehicles. The final task: donations for a local social project. Our four guys named their team "Breaking Good" after the American hit TV series "Breaking Bad" and made it something positive. If they reach their destination intact then they will donate their racing vehicle for a good cause. Their vehicle is a former Mercedes-Benz fire truck built in 1984 with six seats and 95 hp - sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Vans. But that is not all: The fire truck is also filled to the roof with toys. However, the vehicle faces a long journey before it is handed over. They have to tackle up to 8,500 km...

Before the Mercedes-Benz fire truck sets out, "Breaking Good" has to take care of a lot of things: The Mercedes-Benz fire truck has a total weight of 2.8 tonnes and an engine displacement of 2.3 liters. With only 43,000 km on the clock the vehicle is in top form. Yet it still needs a number of modifications.  These include a luggage rack on the roof and the interior has to be equipped to enable the travelers to sleep inside the vehicle while leaving enough space for large cargo. The four men also took a crash course in car mechanic's, just to be prepared for the worst case.

The Mercedes-Benz fire truck also makes a perfect camper van.

From a fire truck to a camper van.

The end of the first leg in Romania.

The journey finally starts on 9th August, around five months later. After Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, their next major stop is in Viseu de Sus in Romania. All of the competitors gather here to meet and share their experiences. The weather is fantastic, the atmosphere relaxed and the travelers on schedule. The "Breaking Good" team has almost forgotten that they are travelling in a fire truck. Only the bright red color, the blue flashing lights and the loudspeaker system remain as reminders of its original purpose. With the luggage rack, the toys and the camping equipment the Mercedes-Benz fire truck looks far more like a camper van.

While travelling, the "Breaking Good" team also spends the occasional night in a tent.

While travelling, the Breaking Good team also spends the occasional night in a tent.

Through Kazakhstan's endless steppe.

The vehicle attracts attention, especially in Russia. In Kazakhstan the "Breaking Good" team also takes pedestrians with them – for a quick tour with the Mercedes-Benz fire truck. However, the road quality there leaves a lot to be desired. "There are more potholes than road! Some of these potholes are up to 50 centimeters deep and five meters long. Fortunately, our driver has both a good eye and steady nerves. For the first 40 kilometers after Gahyushkino we averaged 35 km/h.“

The final leg: from Kirgizstan to their destination.

Nevertheless, the view remains unique. In Kyrgyzstan, a picturesque panorama awaits "Breaking Good". They purchase some more provisions for the journey and then head up into the mountains – almost. "Our driver has noticed that we cannot put the vehicle into first gear and reverse gear", says the blog. "Breaking Good" carry out the repairs on the gearbox up on a ridge before travelling down into the valley where they cross the 8,000 km boundary. Then they are only a few hundred kilometers away from their destination – if everything goes well...

The Breaking Good team sets off from Munich.

A journey without GPS, technical aids and air-conditioned vehicles.

The team Breaking Good in their Mercedes-Benz fire truck.

Prepared for everything: "Breaking Good's" team of four took a car mechanic's course just to be on the safe side.

The Breaking Good team is loading their Mercedes-Benz fire truck.

There is plenty of space inside the Mercedes-Benz fire truck: The "Breaking Good" team loading their vehicle for the journey.

The Mercedes-Benz fire truck on the road to Vienna in Austria.

The first stop on the journey is in Vienna in Austria – nine further countries follow.

The Mercedes-Benz fire truck only has a few kilometres on the clock.

The Mercedes-Benz fire truck is a classic - and only has a few kilometers on the clock.

Enthusiastic pedestrians in Russia.

In Russia the four take enthusiastic pedestrians with them in their vehicle.

The Mercedes-Benz fire truck on difficult terrain.

The fire truck has to prove its capabilities on differing terrain.

The Mercedes-Benz fire truck on the road.

Luckily the travelers took a car mechanics course before the journey – because not everything goes smoothly.

The team Breaking Good handles the challenges of the Tajik Rally.

The roads are not always in the best condition, yet the adventurers handle the challenges with ease.

Photos: Breaking Good

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