Race2Recovery Dakar Rally challenge alive

A Race2Recovery vehicle in action in this year's Dakar Rally (s).
A Race2Recovery vehicle in action in this year's Dakar Rally (s).

A Harrogate man is part of the Race2Recovery team forced to retire two vehicles from its 2014 Dakar bid.

The group of severely injured soldiers made history in 2013 as the first disabled rally team to enter, and complete, the Dakar Rally.

Harrogate man Quin Evans was co-pilot in one of the retired vehicles.

The team had entered two race cars and a T4 truck, to support the race cars, into the 2014 Dakar and had begun the race on Sunday, January 5, progressing well in the early stage.

However, on Stage 2, Monday, January 6, the race car of Ben Gott and Phillip Gillespie suffered failure forcing them to withdraw.

In addition, the race car of Tony Harris and Quin Evans rolled end-to-end as it was progressing down a large sand dune. The vehicle landed on its wheels and made it through to the end of the stage but, on inspection by the team mechanics, it was found to have suffered damage to the roll cage which meant it had to be withdrawn for safety reasons.

However, the support truck is currently helping another stranded team, and will continue to progress in the race.

Initially, the main role of the T4 truck was to enter each stage to support the two race cars along the route.

Entering a race truck as a support vehicle is a widely adopted strategy by Dakar teams, enabling them to rescue vehicles when stuck, provide mechanical and technical assistance, and also help ensure maximum safety for race crews. The challenge for the truck is that it must also make it to the end of each stage in order to continue in the race.

With the exit of both Race2Recovery vehicles competing in the cars class, the team can now make the race truck its sole focus to achieve the goal of completing the Dakar for a second year running.

The truck’s crew includes one of the team’s injured servicemen, amputee Daniel Whittingham.

Speaking from the team’s bivouac in San Rafael, Argentina, driver and team founder Tony Harris said: “I’m extremely proud of the reaction of our team.

“Having to retire two race cars was a big blow but the whole team committed to working as hard as possible to keep our T4 race truck in this year’s Dakar.

“Our dream of finishing for a second year running is very much alive, although we’re conscious there is a long way to go.

“The crew did a fantastic thing, turning around to help another stranded team, and for that act alone they deserve to continue on this adventure.

“We’re receiving amazing support from spectators and other teams and we’ll do everything we can to repay their faith in us.

“The longer we stay in the competition, the more exposure we can give to the charities that we’re supporting, such as Help For Heroes, Tedworth House, The Baton and Blesma.”

Race2Recovery has raised over £250,000 for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre and Help for Heroes and, this year, is also raising awareness of military charity Blesma.

Land Rover, the team’s lead sponsor, has confirmed that it will support the team’s entry into the new Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series that will launch in the UK in Spring 2014.

Race2Recovery can use this competition to gain further experience ahead of future Dakar challenges as well as using it as an ideal platform to train up new recruits.