Atmosphere 'electric' as Race2Recovery prepares for rally

Tony Harris, one of the drivers on the Race2Recovery team taking part in the 2013 Dakar Rally, describes the atmosphere in Lima, Peru, as “electric” as they prepare for the start of the 15-day race.

The Dakar Rally will take them 9,000kms (5,600 miles) across extreme mountain and desert terrain.

The race route passes through southern Peru, across the border into Argentina, and finally into Chile, where they hope to cross the finish line in Santiago on Sunday 20 January.

Difficult challenge
“The atmosphere here in Lima has been fantastic,” Tony told Inmarsat.com.

“We know there is a difficult challenge ahead, but everyone is buzzing.

“Obviously, there is some trepidation, but the support for us has been amazing – we even made the front page of the biggest newspaper in Peru.”

Fully functioning
Race2Recovery has risen rapidly to become a fully-functioning rally team in only 18 months.  

Twenty-eight people, with four Wildcat race vehicles and a fleet of support trucks to help move the support team and mechanical equipment, are behind the Race2Recovery bid.

The team, which operates with the motto “Beyond Injury – Achieving The Extraordinary”, set up its Dakar Rally challenge in order to inspire people who may be injured, ill or facing adversity.

Raising money
Through its racing activity, Race2Recovery has been raising money for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre, one of six Personnel Recovery Centres established as part of the Defence Recovery Capability.

“Hopefully, the story that we are trying to inspire people to come to terms with injury or other difficulties in their life is getting across,” said Tony.

Tony is one of the founding members of Race2Recovery. He is a below-the-knee amputee with other injuries as a result of an improvised bomb blast in 2009 while on a vehicle patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan.

Chronic pain
The explosion shattered both his heels and fractured his left arm badly.  His leg was removed 10 months later due to infection and chronic pain.

As one of the team's drivers Tony expects the Dakar to be the hardest thing he has ever completed, but says it will allow him to put the injury behind him “once and for all”.  

He added that Inmarsat's IsatPhone Pro and BGAN terminal equipment will be a potential lifesaver as they tackle the gruelling challenge.

Technical experts
“The IsatPhone Pro will allow us to communicate within the team and ring back to the UK simply and easily, and at a far cheaper rate than using our mobile phones,” Tony said.

“And we can talk to technical experts just as easily as if they were here, plus give the team a morale boost by letting them talk to their families too.

“Our BGAN terminal will also help us to get our story out, which is absolutely vital – to let the world see what we're doing and challenge their perceptions of what's possible.

Video link
“It also gives us a strategic advantage in that we can talk to specialist mechanics and show them what our problems are via a video link if necessary.

“And we can talk to medical experts if we get any problems with our prosthetic limbs.

“The aim of the rally is to show just what people can achieve and we hope to raise a seven-figure sum in the process,” Tony said.

To follow the Race2Recovery team's progress on the Dakar Rally or to make a donation to the fundraising effort visit its website. Or, if you live in the UK, you can donate £5 via your mobile phone – just text RACE20 £5 to 70070.

Race2Recovery:
www.race2recovery.com
Twitter: @race2recovery
Dakar Rally: www.dakar.com/dakar/2013/us/route.html