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The Race2Recovery blog: The toughest rally of them all

05113801 009 300x200 The Race2Recovery blog: The toughest rally of them allToday’s been true to the old cliché about the calm before the storm. With the cars in parc ferme, the team have had a day to wash some clothes, take a deep breath and prepare for the extraordinary challenge that is the Dakar Rally. Tonight will be their last in a proper bed until the cars reach Santiago de Chile on January 20 by which time they’ll have raced over 5,000 miles.

“This moment’s been a long time coming,” says Tom Neathway, a triple amputee who’ll co-drive in one of four Wildcat rally raid cars, based on a Land Rover Defender. “Right now, my main emotion is excitement. Tomorrow there’ll be nerves; then there’ll be fear. But it’s not the rally that I fear; I fear not finishing”.

Off-road expert Mark Cullum has led the team’s training over the past few months. “The first special stage is only 13km long so it’s a chance to bed in,” he explains. “Everyone will be excited but we’ve drilled into the drivers that they must be restrained, sympathetic and alert. The smoother you are, the more efficient you are. That’s how we’ll get to the finish”. Cullum will drive the team’s race truck. He’ll compete in the rally but his main focus is to support the rally cars should they hit trouble.

Tomorrow the rally leaves Lima and track 263km south along the Peruvian coast before the start of the stage. The first bivouac of the rally will then be erected in the town of Pisco. By the time the team clamber into their sleeping bags late tomorrow night, they’ll at last have a proper understanding of what it means to take part in the toughest rally of them all.

Race2Recovery is the first disabled team ever to enter the Dakar Rally, the world’s toughest motorsport event. Comprised predominantly of British and American servicemen, wounded in action, the team has set out to prove that serious injuries are no barrier to extraordinary achievement, and to raise money for the Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre. Donations to the team’s fundraising campaign can be made at www.race2recovery.com

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