LAND ROVER SPONSORED RACE2RECOVERY MAKES HISTORY BY COMPLETING SECOND CONSECUTIVE DAKAR RALLY
Team build on 2013 achievement by becoming first disabled team to complete not one but two Dakar rallies
- Team’s race truck crosses 2014 Dakar finish line after 9,100km, whilst Land Rover Discovery support vehicles covered over 7,000 km of demanding on and off-road terrain
- Land Rover also providing all-terrain vehicle support for the Red Bull Desert Wings team
Valparaiso, Chile, 20 January 2014. The Race2Recovery team of injured soldiers and civilian volunteers competing in the 2014 Dakar rally has made history for the second year running by once again finishing the ‘world’s toughest race’. The team, sponsored by Land Rover, became the first ever disabled team to finish the Dakar in 2013 and, by successfully crossing the line in the 2014 event, they have written themselves into the record books once again.
At 14:30 local time on Saturday 18 January, the Race2Recovery truck crossed the official finish line to jubilant scenes from the team’s support crew. The truck and team then made its way to the final podium in Valparaiso, Chile, arriving at 22:45 to celebrate with the crowds packed into the city centre. The race truck’s on-board team included Corporal Daniel Whittingham, from Nottingham, a below the knee amputee after injuries sustained in an IED explosion when serving in Afghanistan. He, along with truck driver Mark Cullum, from Hereford, and co-driver Chris Ratter, from Knutsford, battled across some of the world’s toughest terrain, including the Atacama Desert and Andes mountain range, before arriving at the final check point after more than 9,100km of racing. A total of 204 vehicles completed the 2014 Dakar, meaning just over 50% of racers across all categories were forced to withdraw.
Speaking at the finish line, Corporal Whittingham said: “I’m so proud of the team. To finish one Dakar, last year, was amazing. To finish a second consecutive Dakar is just unbelievable. The whole team pulled together and worked extremely hard and we’re really grateful for the support we’ve had from the fans, the media, our sponsors, especially Land Rover, and other teams and competitors in the event, particularly the Red Bull Desert Wings team.
“It was tough keeping the truck in the race and a real challenge for the driver and both us co-drivers. We were often finishing the stage with very little turnaround time before starting the next one, so sleep wasn’t really on the agenda. There are so many obstacles out here as well; the terrain, the climate, all the time pressures whilst also needing to keep a cool head. As one of the injured members of the team, I also had to ensure I looked after my prosthetic and ensured I was in the best possible shape which is vital in these surroundings with the dust and high temperatures.”
Speaking as the team celebrated in Valparaiso, Tony Harris, the team’s founder, said: “The team has once again lived up to its motto ‘Beyond Injury, Achieving the Extraordinary.’ We had a bit of a bumpy ride early on but we all pulled together and showed what will-power and teamwork can achieve. The race truck crew have been a credit to us and to the Dakar as a whole. On several occasions they selflessly stopped on-stage to rescue other teams in difficulty and, in doing so, made their own race challenge all the more difficult. That shows the spirit of our team but also the spirit of this fantastic event. It’s the world’s toughest race but it’s the world’s greatest feeling when you see your team across the finish line. It’s fair to say that we’re looking forward to celebrating but we’re also looking forward to catching up on some much-needed sleep!”
Mark Cameron, Global Brand Experience Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We’re delighted that Race2Recovery has, once again, crossed the finish line of the toughest race in the world. At Land Rover, we’re proud of our ongoing association with a team that demonstrates such great strength of character. We know what it’s taken for the team to get to the Dakar and it’s been a pleasure to play a role in supporting them along their journey. We’re now very excited to be joining the next chapter of the Race2Recovery story, when we support their entry into the new Defender Challenge by Bowler race series that will be launching in the UK later this year.
“I’d also like to extend my congratulations to the Red Bull Desert Wings Team which once again has achieved an outstanding result.”
This year, the Race2Recovery team included 16 members with two Wildcat race cars, a race truck, two Land Rover Discovery support vehicles and a support truck. Two of the race vehicles were forced to retire from the competition and the team then focused all efforts onto the race truck. The Race2Recovery support team travelled over 7,000km on and off-road, setting up the team bivouac at the end of each stage and with many of the team working through the night. Made up of drivers, co-drivers, technicians, mechanics and strategists, the Race2Recovery team this year also benefitted from access to the Red Bull Desert Wings bivouac after Land Rover became the official vehicle supplier to the team. Race2Recovery’s crew has been welcomed on a daily basis into the Red Bull Bivouac, providing them with additional resource and infrastructure.
With this year’s Dakar rally now over, the team will travel back to the UK before preparing for their next challenge – the Defender Challenge by Bowler. Land Rover has confirmed it will support an entry for the Race2Recovery team into the new UK-based one mark race series that launches later this year. The competition will provide Race2Recovery with the ideal platform to enhance their skills and train up new recruits to the team ahead of future Dakar challenges.
Race2Recovery operates to the motto ‘beyond injury, achieving the extraordinary’ and has raised over £250,000 for military charities including Tedworth House and Help for Heroes as well as helping raise the profile of military charities Blesma and The Baton.