Previously we covered Race2Recovery, a heroic crew of wounded soldiers who defied the odds to participate in the world’s toughest rally racing event, the Dakar. On the team’s debut in the Dakar in 2013, the team endured tremendous hardships that could be easily taken from a movie script. In the end, out of the 4 cars participating, only one car finished the rally – marking the first vehicle piloted by disabled participants to complete the historic Dakar Rally.
For this year’s challenge, the team rolled out 2 Land Rover Wildcats for the car category, and one T4 truck for the truck category in the 14-day race in Argentina, carrying on through Bolivia and down to the finish line in Valparaiso in Chile. The team consisted of 16 injured soldiers and civilian volunteers, including drivers, co-drivers, support vehicle drivers and a crew of technical and mechanical experts, and kind support from Land Rover. Many of these injured soldiers lost their limbs during their tour of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Just like last year, hardships hit the team and by day two, two of the teams’ cars were forced to retire, leaving the sole T4 race truck – driven by Mark Cullum with co-drivers Chris Ratter and Corporal Daniel “Baz” Whittingham, to soldier on (pun intended). Baz was previously a soldier in the British Army when he lost his leg caused by the IED in Afghanistan in 2009.
5,000 miles later and by day 14, the moment of triumph could be felt by the Race2Recovery team when the T4 race crossed the finish line to complete the Dakar rally. This effectively meant that Cpl Daniel “Baz” Whittingham became only the second amputee ever to complete the Dakar Rally, and the first in the truck category. Cpl Whittingham says: “It was a massive relief to finish it. I’d like to say we were all jumping around spraying champagne like you see at the end of Formula 1 races, but we’d previously spent the past week sleeping a maximum of three hours and driving for 20”.
Race2Recovery founder Captain Tony Harris added that “Your injuries can’t get in the way of being part of the team. You work around everyone’s capabilities and the fact everyone pulled together for the second year in a row is great.” For this year, Race2Recovery has raised more than £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.
Our congratulations to the brave and bold crew of Race2Recovery and for sure we’re looking forward for their return participation for next year’s Dakar.
[Image Source: Race to Recovery.com]