Race2Recovery make history by finishing Dakar Rally

The Race2Recovery team have made history by becoming the first disability team to complete the world's toughest race – the 2013 Dakar Rally.

The team's one remaining Wildcat race vehicle and its crew – driver Major Matt O'Hare and co-driver Corporal Phillip Gillespie – crossed the finish line in Santiago, Chile.

It signalled the end of an extraordinary two weeks that saw the team's other three Wildcat vehicles forced out of the race along the way.

Team success
Major O'Hare said: “It's not quite sinking in that we've actually done it. I'm ecstatic and am so proud and pleased for the whole Race2Recovery team.

“Our mechanics and support team have kept us in the race and their work and dedication was second to none.

“Our other drivers and co-drivers who were forced to retire earlier in the race became an integral part of the support team as we continued the challenge and so this really is a team success.

Incredible achievement
“To complete the Dakar Rally is an incredible achievement in itself, but to become the first ever disability team to cross that finish line lifts the achievement to a whole other level.”

Corporal Gillespie added: “We have found out first-hand why they call the Dakar Rally the hardest race in the world. It has pushed every single one us to our limits and beyond.

“To be able to stand here at the finish line and say we achieved what we set out to achieve, to become the first ever disability team to complete the Dakar Rally, feels magical.”

Satellite phones
The team's four Wildcat vehicles began the 15-day, 9,000km (5,600-mile) rally in Lima, Peru, on 5 January.

Inmarsat equipped them with BGAN terminals and eight IsatPhone Pro satellite phones so they could stay in touch with their mechanical and logistics crews as they raced across three countries, much of the time through mountains and desert.

The first car eliminated from the race was that of Captain Tony Harris and his co-driver Cathy Derousseaux, who were disqualified on Stage 2 after mechanical problems.

Incredible race
A few days later, a second vehicle retired with mechanical trouble and then driver Ben Gott and co-driver US Marine SSgt Mark Zambon were forced out on Stage 6 when they hit a ditch at speed and rolled.

Captain Harris was among those celebrating when their remaining vehicle, named Joy, crossed the finishing line.

“I'm focusing now on putting a team together for the 2014 Dakar Rally. It's got under my skin – it's such an incredible race – and I need to prove to myself and others I can do it,” he told Inmarsat's news team.

Help for Heroes
Congratulating the team, Andy Start, President, Global Government at Inmarsat, said: “Our support for the Race2Recovery team builds on our longstanding association with this ultimate driving event.

“These volunteers have truly inspired those who are injured, disabled or facing adversity, and we applaud their courage and accomplishments.”

The team, which consists predominantly of injured soldiers, were raising money for a Help for Heroes project – the Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre in the UK.

Donations welcome
To make a donation towards their fundraising efforts for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre visit its website.

If you live in the UK, you can donate £5 via your mobile phone – just text RACE20 £5 to 70070.

Pictured: Race2Recovery team members celebrate as Joy approaches the finishing line.

Race2Recovery: www.race2recovery.com
Twitter: @race2recovery
Dakar Rally: www.dakar.com