Blog - Wednesday 9th Jan
- Category: Race Blog
The Race2Recovery team of injured soldiers and civilian volunteers currently competing in this year’s Dakar Rally today confirmed that two of its cars have made it through a gruelling fourth day to compete in Stage 5, whilst another car has been forced to retire.
There was good news for the Race2Recovery crew of Major Matt O’Hare and Corporal Phillip Gillespie whose vehicle successfully finished Tuesday’s Stage 4 and was confirmed as starting today’s Stage 5.
In addition, the crew of Ben Gott and SSgt Mark Zambon, who had been delayed after they stopped to help other teams in difficulty, has been confirmed for entry into today’s Stage 5.
Stage 5 will see the cars travel from Arequipa in Peru to Arica, just over the Chilean border. The stage totals 337km, including the 172km timed special stage.
The Race2Recovery Wildcat of driver Justin Birchall and co-driver Corporal Tom Neathway suffered mechanical failure as a result of major damage caused by a punishing run on Stage 4. Both Birchall and Neathway were confirmed as safe but have been forced to retire their vehicle from the race. Their Wildcat vehicle was kindly donated to the team by the family of Gordon Chapman, who sadly passed away before he had chance to use the vehicle in his own plans to race in the Dakar.
“We’re distraught at not being able to continue in the rally and get Gordon’s car to the finish line,” said Corporal Neathway. “We felt very passionate about the fact that we wanted to get to the finish in Gordon’s memory, given the donation of the car from his family after he passed away. However, I hope that we have made the family proud by what we have achieved to date and the fact that the Race2Recovery team is still pushing forward. On a personal note, I’m gutted that after all our training and hard work we have had to retire, but I hope our efforts in the build-up, and in our four days of racing, have helped inspire other people to challenge themselves, no matter what their disability, illness or adverse circumstances. We will now throw ourselves into supporting the remaining Race2Recovery team members that are still competing.”
Justin Birchall added “It’s clearly a sad way for myself and Tom to end our rally and we’re very disappointed that we’re not able to compete any further. That said, we have also been reflecting on the achievement that was simply getting to the start line and also the fantastic support that Race2Recovery continues to receive. We will be doing everything we can to support the team as it continues to try and push its way towards the finish line”.