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The Race2Recovery blog: Argentina has been a great friend to the rally

Linda Sharkey

Race2Recovery2 300x225 The Race2Recovery blog: Argentina has been a great friend to the rallyAccording to the official Dakar guide, yesterday’s stage might have reminded, “the most open-minded of participants of Ireland in some places”. Race2Recovery’s resident Irishman, Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie, wasn’t convinced. “I don’t remember it ever being forty degrees Celsius in Ireland,” he said, “and we’re more into mud than dust”.

Gillespie was in high spirits after another good day. While everyone is keeping everything crossed, the overheating problems that blighted the car in the first week appear to have been alleviated. “Argentina has been good to us so far,” driver Matt O’Hare says. “It’s a beautiful country and the stages are fun. It’s unbelievably hot out there but we’re loving it.”

Right now, Joy is proving true to Kipling’s old adage about keeping your head while all around them are losing theirs. Both the team’s eight-wheel support trucks through a strop yesterday and will play no further part in the rally. As Joy, O’Hare and Gillespie left for the stage start, the rest of the team was busy re-packing all the team’s equipment.

race2recovery blog1 300x225 The Race2Recovery blog: Argentina has been a great friend to the rallyThe Renault Kerax race truck is now looking a lot less racy as a packhorse. Everything that wouldn’t fit into the truck has been loaded into the team’s Land Rover Discovery support vehicles. The team now has a super-slim look, but tonight the mechanics will go to work as normal.

Argentina has been a great friend to the rally. Everywhere we go, we’re mobbed. The team’s mechanics have had to perfect their autographs, even signing body parts on occasion. This afternoon, the cameraman filming a documentary about the team looked somewhat bemused to be handed a baby for a photograph.

The drivers and co-drivers, though, are the undoubted stars of the Dakar. O’Hare was even described as ‘lindo’ (handsome) by an attractive Argentinean. Maybe she would have thought him marginally less cool if she knew that he and Gillespie completed the road section today singing along to country and western.

Tomorrow’s stage takes the teams from tonight’s bivouac in La Rioja to Fiambalá, where the rally returns to the dreaded dunes for a 481km special stage. Don’t think for a moment that the Dakar gets any easier as it reaches its climax.

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.com

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