Norfolk success in the Dakar Rally
PUBLISHED: 17:57 20 January 2013 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 January 2013
A daring racing team managed by a former Norwich soldier is celebrating this morning after completing the world’s toughest rally.
Race2Recovery has made history after becoming the first team featuring disabled members to ever complete the Dakar Rally across the tricky mountainous and desert terrain of three South American countries.
Led by Andrew Taylor, from Taverham, a former warrant officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, the team also included mechanic Dave Reeve, of Great Ryburgh near Fakenham, and his wife Debbie Harrison, who remained in the UK as their social media manager.
On Saturday, Race2Recovery’s one remaining car crossed the finish line at Santiago, in Chile, ending an extraordinary and often dangerous two weeks which has won royal approval.
Team manager Mr Taylor, 40, suffered a serious back injury which left him in almost constant pain after being caught in a suicide bomb attack while on active service in Helmand, Afghanistan.
Speaking after the race this weekend, he said: “The support that this team has received, from back home and also from the people of Peru, Argentina and Chile, has been first class.
“People from all over the world have been sending messages of support to the team and the closer we got to the finish the more these messages flooded in.
“The Race2Recovery challenge really seems to have captured the imagination of the public and we can’t thank everyone enough.”
Today, the team was congratulated by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In a message to the team which remains in Chile, Prince William said: “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.”
The team was beset by problems throughout the tough race. After starting out with four vehicles in the competition, three were forced to pull out along the way.
Two were hit by mechanical problems while a crash during stage six of the race saw the car of Ben Gott and US Marine Mark Zambon hit a ditch at speed and roll.
Earlier in the race, one of the team’s support vehicles was involved in a head-on crash which killed two Peruvian civilians and injured several others including three Race2Recovery members.
During the race, Mr Taylor said the team could now testify that the Dakar Rally was “the toughest race in the world”.
Race2Recovery has been aiming to raise a significant amount of money for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre.
Mr Taylor said: “I would urge anyone that has followed our team, and is celebrating its success, to visit our website and make a donation to this fantastic cause.”
To donate, go to www.race2recovery.com