Race2Recovery has made history by becoming the first team made up predominantly of wounded service personnel to complete the world's toughest off-road race – the Dakar Rally. Following what is arguably the toughest two weeks in motorsport; Race2recovery's last remaining 'Wildcat' vehicle – from an original fleet of four – crossed the finish line in Santiago, Chile, driven by Major Matt O'Hare and co-driver Corporal Phillip Gillespie.
Andy Start, President, Global Government at Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, which has partnered the team both during their build-up to the race and throughout the rally, sent congratulations to team captain Tony Harris and all his colleagues:
“This is an outstanding achievement,” said Andy. “I have followed the team's progress in South America with mounting admiration. I appreciate that overcoming serious injury is tough enough but to have then competed on equal terms with the world's greatest off-road drivers across the exceptionally difficult terrain of the Dakar Rally … well, that is staggering!
“Inmarsat is proud to have supported the team and to have helped them to raise money for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre, a Help for Heroes project in the UK.”
Driver Matt O'Hare and Phillip 'Barney' Gillespie's Wildcat vehicle, nicknamed 'Joy', crossed the finish line over the weekend and led the Race2Recovery team's participation in the celebratory parade in Chile Sunday (20th January). Of the four Wildcat vehicles which took to the start line in Lima, Peru on Saturday 5th January, only 'Joy' crossed the finish line 15-days and some 9,000km later in Santiago.
However, the entire Race2Recovery contingent, the first team of predominantly injured service personnel to compete in, let alone to complete, the formidable rally, climbed the podium for a moment that marked the culmination of two years' hard work, and in recognition for completing one of the world's toughest challenges.
Captain Tony Harris, Race2Recovery's team Co-Director and a former Captain in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said: “We are very grateful to Inmarsat for their support. And, I'm delighted to report, that their satellite communications played a major role throughout the race. Having access to portable and robust broadband data services and satellite phones as we crossed the mountains and deserts of southern South America was crucial to our safety and performance. It also enabled us to keep family, friends and supporters across the world up-to-date with regular postings on social media sites.”
Inmarsat provided vital satellite communications equipment and services to the Race2Recovery team during the 9,000km rally, which covered some of the most adverse terrain between Lima and Santiago.
The Race2Recovery team remained connected at all times, whether on the move or at the halt, using Inmarsat global satellite broadband BGAN terminals for internet and data services, and eight IsatPhone Pro satellite phones. The Inmarsat-sponsored team relied on the company's services to maintain contact even in the most remote locations, such as the Atacama Desert and the Andes mountain range. Video links with the mechanical and logistics crews back at base in the UK were available, and they posted updates on the charity's website, Facebook and Twitter pages. They were also able to seek help in the case of medical or mechanical emergencies.
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Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat employs around 1,500 staff in more than 40 locations around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. For more information, please visit www.inmarsat.com/about.
Race2Recovery is a team of volunteers, racing to inspire those who are injured, disabled or facing adversity, by being the first team of predominantly injured servicemen to complete the formidable Dakar Rally in South America, in January 2013. R2R raises money for a Help for Heroes project, the Tedworth House recovery centre in Wiltshire, where injured servicemen and women can receive every kind of support. Tedworth House is one of five Personnel Recovery Centres that have been established as part of the Defence Recovery Capability, an MOD led initiative in partnership with Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion.