San Rafael, Argentina, 7 January 2014. Race2Recovery, the group of severely injured soldiers who made history as the first disabled rally team to enter, and complete, the Dakar rally in 2013 has been forced to retire two race vehicles from its 2014 Dakar challenge.
The team had entered two race cars and a T4 truck, to support the race cars, into the 2014 Dakar and had begun the race on Sunday 5 January, progressing well in the early stage. However, on Stage 2, Monday 6 January, the race car of Ben Gott and Phillip Gillespie suffered failure forcing them to withdraw. In addition, the race car of Tony Harris and Quin Evans rolled end-to-end as it was progressing down a large sand dune. The vehicle landed on its wheels and made it through to the end of the stage but, on inspection by the team mechanics, it was found to have suffered damage to the roll cage which meant it had to be withdrawn for safety reasons.
In the spirit of the Dakar, the team’s T4 truck has stopped to help a stranded team on Stage 2 and will then make its way back to the bivouac with the aim of continuing to progress in this year’s race. The truck’s crew includes one of the team’s injured servicemen, amputee Daniel Whittingham.
Speaking from the team’s bivouac in San Rafael, Argentina, driver and team founder Tony Harris said: “We’re clearly very disappointed that we’ve had to retire two race vehicles. Our preparations had gone very well but this year’s experience just goes to show why they call the Dakar the toughest race in the world. As a team, we’ll now focus on the T4 truck and put all our efforts in trying to keep this vehicle in the Dakar. We want to stay in the race as long as possible and we’re proud that our efforts continue to raise the profile of military charities including Tedworth House, Help For Heroes and Blesma. We’d like to thank everyone who has supported our Dakar challenge so far.”
Race2Recovery has raised over £250,000 for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre and Help for Heroes and, this year, is also raising awareness of military charity Blesma. Land Rover, the team’s lead sponsor, has confirmed that it will support the team’s entry into the new Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series that will launch in the UK in Spring 2014. Race2Recovery can use this competition to gain further experience ahead of future Dakar challenges as well as using it as an ideal platform to train up new recruits.