A DISABLED rally team that includes a Bournemouth man is soldiering on with its epic Dakar Rally challenge despite having to retire its two race cars.
Race2Recovery, which made history as the first disabled rally team to compete in the famous event last year, had to retire its cars after stage two, but is now focusing its effort on its remaining race truck.
Sean Whatley, a former soldier from Bournemouth, is a mechanic in its support team for the event in South America.
The 45-year-old helped the Race2Recovery team complete the rally last year and is again helping the team overcome deserts and mountains in this year’s 9,000km race.
Entering a race truck is a common strategy for teams, enabling them to rescue their cars if they get stuck, but the challenge is that the truck must also make it to end of each stage in order to continue.
With its cars retired, the Race2Recovery team is now focusing on doing just that in order to finish for the second year.
Speaking from Chilecito, Argentina, driver and team founder Tony Harris said: “I’m extremely proud of the reaction of our team.
“Having to retire two race cars was a big blow but the whole team committed to working as hard as possible to keep our T4 race truck in this year’s Dakar.
“Our dream of finishing for a second year running is very much alive, although we’re conscious there is a long way to go.”
Before departing, Sean said: “Being part of the team that made history last year was something really special,” he said.
“To be the first disability team to ever reach the Dakar finish line just goes to show what can be achieved when a like-minded group of people come together. The injured members of the team have been inspirations to many.”
Sean is an ex-Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer. He served in Bosnia and Iraq in the 1990s.
He has been a mechanic for other rallies and now runs his own business.
The 16-strong team of injured soldiers and civilian volunteers have raised more than £250,000 for the Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre and Help for Heroes so far.