The Race2Recovery blog: Man and machine in charge of nature
On Friday we stood on top of the dune for three hours. It was 35 degrees Celsius, we could see for over 20km and we could see no-one else. Sun cream was applied, cameras were readied, GPS coordinates were confirmed and then Robby Gordon’s Hummer appeared, powering up the sand with an angry snarl. Man and machine were in charge of nature.
Gordon was followed by the other leading cars in the Dakar Rally; a plethora of garish, million dollar specials built for the sand. Then the front running trucks arrived, looking as incongruous as ever as they monstered their way up the giant sandcastles. Time moved on and the mid-field arrived, zig-zagging their way up the dune as they fought for traction. We waited some more and then, in the distance, there was the faint cry of a familiar V8 engine.
Out of the dust came ‘Joy’, Race2Recovery’s remaining Wildcat. Driver Matt O’Hare traversed the dune, turned right and powered on. We pointed our cameras and co-driver Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie even had time to wave. Joy took a breath, gulped down a litre of fuel, crested the dune and disappeared.
It’s only by witnessing it in close quarters that you get a true sense of the scale of the Dakar. By the time they arrived at the dune, all the crews had travelled over 5000 miles and everyone had endured some sort of drama. This was the second to last stage but there was let up. That’s why they call it the world’s toughest rally.
Friday’s stage lasted 441km and there was an additional 294km of road sections before the cars arrived at the Dakar’s final bivouac. Joy exited the special stage at around 11.30pm local time and as she followed the road route to camp, team manager Andrew ‘Pav’ Taylor summed up Race2Recovery’s feelings:
“It’s been long, hard day, but we’ve ticked off another special stage. All the team’s mechanics are waiting in the bivouac for the car’s return and they’ll work as long as it takes to prepare her for the final stage on Saturday. The Dakar can bite at any time and no-one is getting complacent.” Taylor, who was seriously injured by a suicide bomber while serving in Afghanistan, is the rock on which Race2Recovery is built and over the past fortnight has done an incredible job of guiding the team through adversity.
Saturday was the Dakar’s last serious stage before a ceremonial finish in Santiago de Chile on Sunday. It spans 346km with the potential for heartbreak at every turn. Tonight, as the team prepare ‘Joy’ for one final mission, they will be hoping that she, Barney and Matt can conquer the Dakar one more time.
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, Race2Recovery, rally
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