After the tension and euphoria of yesterday, the celebratory parade through Santiago de Chile was a chance for the Race2Recovery team to drink in their Dakar success.
At 6.30pm local time, Corporal Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie crossed the finish line in Santiago de Chile to become the first amputee ever to complete the Dakar Rally.
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.
Yesterday the Dakar Rally crossed back over the Andes to Copiapó, Chile. The journey began with a 392km road section, which should have been a relaxing drive through some of the world’s most desolate and dramatic scenery.
Dakar the longest in this year’s event. This was an 852km epic, from Tucumán to Cordoba that included a 593km special stage. For the Race2Recovery team and their one remaining Wildcat, ‘Joy’, it would present another fearsome test.
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.”
Late last night some distressing news reached camp about a road traffic accident involving one of the team’s support vehicles. Justin Birchall, who retired from the rally during stage 4, Lee Townsend, a team mechanic, and the team’s logistics expert, John Winskill, were involved and have been badly injured. They’ve been transferred to a hospital in Lima.
“We’re going back-to-back, this is bad ass,” yelled US Marine Mark Zambon as he and Ben Gott left for the fifth stage.
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.
Day 2 on the Dakar brought more drama for the Race2Recovery team. The Wildcat of Tony Harris and Cathy Derousseaux suffered technical problems on the 242 km stage and was assisted by the team’s race truck.
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