ROYAL BACKING FOR INJURED SERVICEMEN’S DAKAR RALLY CHALLENGE
7 November 2012. Race2Recovery, a group of severely injured soldiers aiming to become the first disability team to complete the Dakar Rally, has been awarded the first ever grant from the Endeavour Fund, set up by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, it was announced today.
The Endeavour Fund has been created by The Royal Foundation to enable more wounded and injured servicemen and women to take part in expeditions and sporting challenges as part of their recovery. The Fund will offer seed funding for new endeavours and will help emerging initiatives with advice, hands on support and mentoring.
Race2Recovery, sponsored by Land Rover, is a rally team 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, January 2013. The team, whose motto is ‘beyond injury – achieving the extraordinary’, consists of people from all backgrounds and walks of life: injured servicemen, former soldiers sailors and airmen, and generous people with no military background who have given their time and commitment to the endeavour.
Through its racing activity, Race2Recovery has committed to raising money for a charitable cause close to the hearts of its team members – the Personnel Recovery Centre at Tedworth House. Based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, Tedworth House is one of five Personnel Recovery Centres that have been established as part of the Defence Recovery Capability. The Defence Recovery Capability is an MOD led initiative in partnership with Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion to ensure wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women have access to the key resources they need as they recover. Race2Recovery has already raised well over £100,000 for the Personnel Recovery Centre at Tedworth House but has its sights set on achieving a much higher target. Donations to the fundraising campaign can be made at http://www.race2recovery.com.
At the launch of the Fund earlier this year, Prince Harry said: “I am delighted that our Foundation is launching the Endeavour Fund. The Fund will support injured Servicemen and women in overcoming physical and psychological challenges with dignity, pride and determination. We must never forget the terrible price so many of our men and women in uniform have paid - and continue to pay - to keep us safe and free.
“My comrades-in-arms across the Armed Forces are fighters by definition, fighters by nature. The Endeavour Fund aims to reignite that fighting spirit, and inspire those who have served their country to go on and achieve great things.”
Captain Tony Harris, one of Race2Recovery’s rally drivers who is a below the knee amputee as a result of injuries suffered while serving in Afghanistan, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that, through The Royal Foundation’s Endeavour Fund, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have shown such considerable faith in the Race2Recovery project.
“The financial backing that the Endeavour Fund is providing will enable us to realise our dreams of becoming the first disability team to compete in the Dakar Rally. Not only that, but the Foundation has recognised that our campaign goes further than just the racing activity, and that we’re aiming to inspire other people who may be injured, sick or facing adversity. By helping us secure the immediate future of our racing activity, we now hope we can increase awareness of Race2Recovery and, in turn, increase our fundraising activity, directly benefitting our country’s injured servicemen and women.”
Nick Booth, Chief Executive of The Royal Foundation, said: “We are extremely proud to support Race2Recovery by making the team the first recipient of a grant from our Endeavour Fund. The grant is a just reward for the passion and dedication that they have shown to both their racing activity and also their fundraising drive. The team is proving that, despite some of the challenges they may have faced individually, their lives are about their abilities, not their disabilities. We hope their actions continue to inspire people who may be facing similar challenges and we wish them well on their aim to become the first disability team to complete the Dakar Rally.”
The Dakar Rally, formerly known as ‘The Paris-Dakar’, is an annual off-road desert race organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. The race is considered the ultimate driving, mechanical and navigational test with only 40% of all competitors completing the course. Since 2009, the race has switched to South America, with the Dakar 2013 starting in Lima, Peru on 5thJanuary and finishing, via Argentina, in Santiago, Chile on 20th January.
Race2Recovery has created a capable and competitive rally raid team from scratch in only 12 months. The team’s challenge first came to public attention when the early stages of their project were featured on BBC’s Top Gear programme, back in 2011. In early 2012, the team secured Land Rover as a principal sponsor, providing the injured servicemen not only with funds to help fulfill their aims, but with focused training in Morocco with experienced all-terrain specialists in un-modified Land Rover Defenders. In March this year the team finished an impressive 10th place in their first competition - Morocco’s 2012 Tuareg Rally.
The Race2Recovery drivers, co-drivers and support team are predominantly from across the UK, along with several international members including Dakar legend Pierre De Frenne. The team operates four Land Rover Defender-based Qt Wildcat race vehicles as well as a 4x4 support truck and run the project in their spare time. During the Dakar Rally, the four race vehicles will race in two pairs, supporting each other across the gruelling course, whilst the support truck also tackles the race and ensures it is on hand for any of the four Qt Wildcat cars. The fleet will also consist of two 8x8 support trucks, providing the team’s service areas, as well as three Land Rover Discovery support cars to ferry the mechanics and team management. A conventional day will see the racers spend over 10 hours per day in their Qt Wildcat racers, covering anywhere between 500 and 800km a day, largely off road, at speeds of up to 120mph.
The 18-strong logistical and mechanical team will follow a separate liaison route but the journey is arduous for them too. Most of the mechanics will only sleep for a couple of hours each night and the support fleet, as well as the race vehicles, needs to be looked after. The team will sleep in small pop-up tents or, if the racers don't make it through the dunes, then they will sleep with space blankets under the stars.
Those members of the team that have been wounded in combat have a huge variety of injuries - some have injuries that are more apparent than others but each person has had their life completely changed. Whether dealing with missing limbs, spinal and respiratory injuries, or psychological and fragmentation injuries, each has resolved to prove that their injury will not stop them completing the toughest race on the planet.
All charitable money that is donated to Race2Recovery by the public or companies goes to support the Personnel Recovery Centre at Tedworth House and sits completely separately from the team's racing activity (which is paid for by personal contribution and corporate sponsorship alone). The team is still seeking additional financial backing to help with the significant costs associated with its racing activity and is keen to speak to any interested companies or individuals.
People wishing to find out more about Race2Recovery, make a donation to the fundraising campaign, or become a sponsor of the team should visit http://www.race2recovery.com
Members of Race2Recovery, a team of wounded soldiers planning to race in the 2013 Dakar Rally, pictured on a recent Land Rover major desert training exercise in Morocco (Oct 2012). http://www.race2recovery.com