Land Rover Sponsored Race2Recovery on ITV4

24 April 2013
Les Potts

Land Rover Sponsored Race2Recovery to feature in Two One–Hour Special TV Series on ITV4

An exciting new two-part documentary, Dakar Rally: Frontline to Finish Line, follows the Race2Recovery team of seriously injured servicemen from Britain and the US who took on the world's toughest rally in January this year. The two one-hour series will be aired on ITV4 at 9pm on Wednesday 24th and Friday 26thApril 2013. 

The Dakar saw the team race almost 6000 miles over 15 days through Peru, Argentina and Chile in Land Rover Defender-based Wildcats. They tackled some of the most challenging, isolated terrain in the world, from giant sand dunes to the Atacama Desert and the top of the Andes. The Dakar is the ultimate test of man and machine versus the elements, but for the Race2Recovery team, there was an added challenge. Each of the four cars contained an amputee serviceman as part of the two-man crew. Co-driver Corporal Tom Neathway, for example, is a triple amputee, having lost both legs and an arm while serving in Afghanistan.

The rally was the culmination of two years' hard work. The idea for Race2Recovery grew out of a conversation between Neathway and Captain Tony Harris at Headley Court Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre and quickly grew into a twenty-eight strong rally team, comprised of volunteers and servicemen. Harris became the first amputee driver to enter the Dakar, using a specially adapted clutch pedal. 

The team's target was to get four Land Rover-based Wildcat vehicles across the finish line, but things did not go according to plan. Within days, three of the Wildcats had been forced to retire, one in a horrifying rollover crash. The tears flowed as the crews saw their dream turn into a nightmare. The infamous Dakar had bitten hard but against the odds, the remaining Wildcat, nicknamed 'Joy' after the wife of a team benefactor, struggled on. Joy made it to the finish line in Santiago de Chile and in doing so, co-driver Corporal Barney Gillespie became the first amputee to complete the Dakar.

"It is almost two years to the day since I was blown up in Afghanistan," said Gillespie at the finish. "There were dark days when I thought life as I knew it was over, but I hope I've shown that serious injury is no barrier to doing extraordinary things. Everyone here's been through so much, but we've all supported each other. It's been an emotional journey, but we made it."

Land Rover Brand Experience Director, Mark Cameron commented: "What the Race2Recovery team accomplished in South America earlier this year is a testament to achieving an extraordinary feat of human endurance despite the odds being well and truly stacked against them.

"Despite this, they pushed on and won the ultimate prize - not just finishing the race but becoming role models for anyone suffering injury, illness or adversity in their lives.

"Land Rover is proud to support the Race2Recovery team with our all-terrain vehicles perfect for covering the demanding terrain associated with the Dakar."

The inspirational challenge received Royal backing when it became the first ever recipient of a grant from the Endeavour Fund, set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  The Duke and Duchess sent the team a personal note of congratulation on their completion of the rally. "Catherine and I have heard the wonderful news about your success today − many, many congratulations.  We know it was not easy, but you have today become true record holders as the first ever disability team to complete what is one of the world's toughest challenges.  What you have achieved was a triumph of perseverance and teamwork, and you have shown the world what true valour looks like."

Prime Minister David Cameron added his congratulations, telling the team they, "should all be rightfully proud to be the first disabled team to complete what is recognised as one the of the world's toughest challenges. You have shown that disability should be no barrier to achieving success and have fully lived up to the team motto 'Beyond Injury - Achieving the Extraordinary'."

Dakar Rally: Frontline to Finish Line will be shown on ITV4 Wednesday 24th and Friday 26th April 2013