A FORMER soldier from Bournemouth is helping a team of disabled rally drivers competing in a famous endurance race.

Sean Whatley is a mechanic in the support team for severely injured soldiers racing two Land Rover vehicles in this year’s Dakar Rally 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.

“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.

Sean said being in the race again shows how determined the team is and he is delighted to be back in South America.

He said they are using last year’s experience to influence how they compete this time.

The team is using two Land Rover Defender-based Wildcat rally-raid vehicles, crossing the Atacama desert and the Andes mountain range in temperatures that could reach between 40 to 50 degrees celcius The Dakar 2014 course began in Rosario in Argentina on Sunday with the course winding north through Argentina, into Bolivia and finishing in Valparaiso, Chile on January 18.

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.