If you recalled an episode on Top Gear UK in 2011 where Richard Hammond visits a team of war amputees from UK who participates in a offroad rally race, to prove that amputees are able to compete in motor racing. This is Race2Recovery, which consists of team of volunteers, racing to inspire those who are injured, disabled or facing adversity.
The team, drivers and mechanics are consist of UK and US military personal who has injured or an amputee as the result from their service for their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their mission was to compete in the world’s toughest rally, the Dakar, while raising money for the Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre, an NGO supporting injured servicemen and women. The team trained for 2 years and on the 5th of January 2013, the world were watching this special team’s adventure in the Dakar rally. This 14 days rally will bring competitors to Lima, Peru, crossing over Argentina and finish at Santiago, Chile. This 5,000 mile rally was notoriously one of the most dangerous rally in the world, with each year competitors and spectators lost their lives in this difficult and insane rally.
The team entered 4 Wildcats (modified Land Rover Defenders built for rally RAID) with a team of 24 crews, and a single Renault support truck. To describe their first week in the Dakar like a roller coaster ride is an understatement. Seven days onto the rally and three of their cars were retired as the result of mechanical failures or accidents. On day five, three members of the Race2Recovery were injured in a horrific off race accident when their support truck involved in a fatal accident with another car. At that time the team was reconsidering if they should pull out from the rally, but they choose not to. It looked like their physical disabilities wasn’t only their biggest challenge faced in the Dakar.
However, all lies to the single surviving Wildcat, nicknamed Joy. Joy, driven by Matt O’Hare and co driven by Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie, faced a lot of mechanical difficulties but the incredible duo overcame perseverance and managed to finish all 14 stages of the Dakar rally. Gillespie was an amputee who lost his right leg by road side bomb while serving in Afghanistan.
The team’s misadventures and preseverance has gained many new fans and followers from around the world. While their remaining car was on last place in the cars category,the Race2Recovery had became an sensation in both the Internet and the race itself. They were mobbed at fuel stops, constantly asked for autographs, and fans worldwide followed their times consistently via the Internet and social media.
On the final day of the Dakar rally on 19th January, history were made when Race2Recovery did the impossible, by having the only car in the rally, Joy, finish the Dakar rally. That makes Race2Recovery the first disabled motorsports team to ever complete and finish the Dakar, and Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie is the first amputee to finish the Dakar rally. Despite finishing in last position, they all are winners and recognized as heroes by the media, perhaps even overshadow the rally win of Stephane Peterhansel, who took his 11th win in Dakar. Back in the UK, Prince William congratulated the team for their inspiring and bold race in Dakar. Tears of joy (no pun intended) and happiness were shred when Joy and Race2Recovery overcame monumental obstacles to cross the finish line.
Their act has has been an inspiration to all,regardless if it’s able or disable people, that there is not the result that matter, but it is their spirit and boldness of these amputees that shows that their disadvantagess was not an obstacle in this rally. This inspirational act deserve our respect to these special team, and out massive congratulations to this wonderful and special team, and we hoped to see them in Dakar 2014 and beyond.
Here the video from Top Gear back in 2011 that features the Race2Recovery team. To donate, please visit http://www.Race2Recovery.com.
Note: Man tears were shred by the writter when he wrote this.