The Race2Recovery: The retirement of a third Wildcat and others don’t give up
We’d just crested a dune and we heard this truck coming towards us,” says Gott. “He was hooting his horn but he kept coming and smacked into the back of us.” The left rear corner of the Race2Recovery Wildcat was left bearing a sizeable war wound, but there was no serious damage. “It could have been much worse,” admitted Gott. “In a single smack, your Dakar dream can be over.”
Sadly for Gott and Zambon, his words spoken at the midway point of the 6th stage proved prescient. On the following section of special stage, Gott hit a ditch and rolled the Wildcat. A Dutch support truck helped them to escape the car and neither have suffered serious injuries. “We were travelling about 60mph,” explained Zambon. “It was a big accident but we’re OK, and there was a funny moment. When the Dutch guys pulled me out, one of my legs fell off and the guy panicked. I had to tell him they are prosthetic.”
The retirement of a third Wildcat is a disappointing blow for the team. “Ben has been with the team a long time,” said Captain Tony Harris. “His Dakar experience, driving prowess and undoubted skills as a mechanic have been invaluable. Mark Zambon is one of two US Marine’s on the team. He’s an inspirational character with a great sense of humour, who really understand the spirit and ambition of Race2Recovery.
The fourth Wildcat, ‘Joy’, driven by Major Matt O’Hare, got stuck in the dunes and only managed to make it back to the bivouac this morning. They immediately turned around and headed back out on to the next stage. “Our car, ‘Joy’ overheats in the sun, so we’re having to do the Dakar in the dark,” said co-driver Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie. It’s frustrating, but we won’t give up.”
The morale of everyone was buoyed by the news that the team members injured in a road traffic accident are making good progress in Lima, Peru. “They’ll be kept in hospital for a few days,” said Team Manager Andrew ‘Pav’ Taylor, “but they’re doing well and are following our progress. It was a horrible accident and our thoughts are with the families of those who were less fortunate.”
The incident also underlined just how much of a team game the Dakar Rally is. Race2Recovery comprises twenty-eight people. The mechanics have a nocturnal schedule, working through the night to prepare the cars for the next stage. Then by day they sleep in the team’s support trucks and Land Rover Discovery’s, which are driven from bivouac to bivouac. It’s a strange, nomadic and hugely demanding existence.
Today the whole team must cross the Andes to the Argentinean town of Salta, reaching a height of almost 3900m. For the Wildcat, this will be a 751km day, including a 218km special stage. For everyone, the rest day on January 13th still feels a long way away.
The Race2Recovery 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, gott, Race2Recovery, truck
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