LAND ROVER SPONSORED RACE2RECOVERY KEEP ON TRUCKING AS 2014 DAKAR NEARS CONCLUSION
Team’s race truck continues to make excellent progress
- Two Land Rover Discoverys support team’s endeavour to finish the toughest race in the world
- Land Rover also providing all-terrain vehicle support for the Red Bull Desert Wings team
- Race and support vehicles have already covered over 8000 km demanding off-road terrain
Antofagasta, Chile, 16 January 2014. The race truck of Race2Recovery, the group of injured soldiers and civilian volunteers competing in the 2014 Dakar rally, has completed Stage 10 of the race with only three stages remaining. The team, sponsored by Land Rover, made history in 2013 by becoming the first disabled team to ever complete the Dakar. This year, the team was forced to retire its two race cars but has since focused all its efforts on its race truck in order to achieve the team’s end goal of completing its second consecutive Dakar. So far, 46% of the entrants into the 2014 Dakar have withdrawn from the competition.
The truck’s crew has been racing day and night through Argentina, and now northern Chile and has travelled across 8,000km in ten days of racing. Driver Mark Cullum, co-driver Chris Ratter, and amputee soldier Daniel Whittingham even spent a night in the dunes on Stage 9, helping rescue other teams, before arriving back at the team bivouac in the early hours of the morning to complete the stage.
The bivouac is set up at the stage end each day by Race2Recovery’s support crew, who are providing mechanical, technical and logistical expertise on the team’s adventure. Added to the support crew are the two drivers and two co-drivers of the team’s race cars, now assisting the team’s progress after they themselves retired from the race. Each day, the support team travels in convoy along road routes in a fleet of Land Rover Freelander and Discovery vehicles plus a support truck. The support team drives for an average of 5-6 hours per day and has travelled over 5,000km to date, including a 706km journey over the Andes where they climbed around 4000m. Each support vehicle carries three members of the crew, with drivers rotating whilst the team mechanics, who often work through the night, catch up on a few hours of sleep.
This year, the Race2Recovery support crew has also benefitted from access to the Red Bull Desert Wings bivouac after Land Rover became the official vehicle supplier to the team, providing five Land Rovers including Defender, Discovery, all-new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport with the latter actually following the demanding route of the Dakar. Race2Recovery’s crew has been welcomed on a daily basis into the Red Bull Bivouac providing Race2Recovery with additional resource and infrastructure.
Speaking from the team’s bivouac in Antofagasta, northern Chile, race truck co-driver Chris Ratter said: “It’s been extremely challenging to keep our race truck in the Dakar but the team is doing exceptionally well. Some of the terrain we’re racing over is very unforgiving, through deserts, mountain ranges and over some of the biggest sand dunes you can image. The key to our continued success in the race is all down to the forward planning done by the team. Our support team have been extremely well-prepared. For example, Phillip Gillespie, has been helping prepare the road book ahead of each day’s stage. That’s a massive help to me as sometimes we only have a few hours between finishing one stage and starting the next.
“Our driver, Mark Cullum and the other member of our onboard crew, Daniel Whittingham, have been doing a fine job and it’s vital that the three of us continue to work together to get through the next three stages. When you’re cresting a huge sand dune, sometimes all you can do is hang on and put your faith in the driver! Thankfully, I’ve been rallying for over twenty years so it takes quite a lot to scare me.”
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. The team’s lead sponsor, Land Rover, has also 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.