The Race2Recovery blog: Mighty dune
For seven hours the film crew following the Race2Recovery team watched cars descend a mighty dune, cross a wadi (dry river bed) and then scramble up the other side. Some powered on through, some got stuck and had to dig themselves out, and others bore the scars of battle. Rally favourite Robby Gordon arrived with the front of his Hummer missing.
It was entertaining stuff, but as the sun set there was still no sign of the team’s Wildcats. Darkness fell and just as the cameras were being packed away, the telltale cry of a Land Rover V8 was heard across the valley. Two headlights and then four were spotted tracking down the dune and across the wadi. Minutes later the two cars roared into view.
“It’s not over yet,” yelled Barney Gillespie as he guided Matt O’Hare passed the crew. Following in convoy was the Wildcat of Justin Birchall and Tom Neathway. Birchall was being typically phlegmatic. “You’ve just got to get it done, you’ve just got to get it done,” he exclaimed as they sped off into the night.
As I write it’s gone midnight and both Wildcats are still battling their way to the bivouac. For the injured servicemen inside, it’s a huge mental and physical challenge. “The last couple of days have been incredibly tough,” admitted Team Manager Andrew ‘Pav’ Taylor. “But this is the Dakar. We’ve come here for the ultimate automotive challenge, so none of this is a surprise,”
While Birchall and O’Hare were making decent progress, the Wildcat of Ben Gott and US Marine Mark Zambon was having a tougher time. Mechanical problems had left them lagging behind their teammates. “They’ve had some troubles but Ben’s an exceptional mechanic and has fixed the problems as they’ve occurred,” said Taylor. “Ben’s got the Dakar logo tattooed on his arm and both he and Mark epitomise the sprit of this event.”
As the carsmotored on, there was some cheer for the team with news that the support truck has been repaired in the desert and is also en route to the bivouac. It’s been quite a day and there’ll be no respite tomorrow as the Dakar leaves Peru and heads south into Chile.
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.comTagged in: Dakar Rally, dune, Race, Race2Recovery
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