Mechanical failure ends Corporal's Dakar challenge

Friday 11 January 2013 Updated: 14/01 13:13

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Buy photos » Race2Recovery team-mates Justin Birchall and Corp Tom Neathway were forced to bow out of the Dakar Rally. Picture by DPPI Media.

AN INJURED Worcester soldier's brave attempt to complete the gruelling Dakar Rally ended in disappointment as a mechanical failure forced his withdrawal from the race.

Corporal Tom Neathway, who was a co-driver in one of the Race2Recovery team's four Wildcat vehicles, bowed out of the 9,000km rally in South America along with driver Justin Birchall after their vehicle was badly damaged during the punishing fourth stage.

Their Wildcat was donated to the team - which is made up of predominantly injured soldiers - by the family of Gordon Chapman, who passed away before he had chance to use the vehicle to race in the Dakar.

Corporal Neathway, who lost both his legs and left arm in an explosion while on a tour of duty in Afghanistan, said they were distraught at not being able to continue.

"We felt very passionate about the fact that we wanted to get to the finish in Gordon’s memory, given the donation of the car from his family after he passed away," he said.

"However, I hope that we have made the family proud by what we have achieved to date and the fact that the Race2Recovery team is still pushing forward.

"On a personal note, I’m gutted that after all our training and hard work we have had to retire, but I hope our efforts in the build-up, and in our four days of racing, have helped inspire other people to challenge themselves, no matter what their disability, illness or adverse circumstances. We will now throw ourselves into supporting the remaining Race2Recovery team members that are still competing.”

The day after Corporal Neathway's withdrawal three members of the Race2Recovery support team - John Winskill, Justin Birchall and Lee Townsend - were injured in a serious road collision.

The Land Rover Defender they were travelling in was involved in a crash in which two Peruvian civilians died and left several others injured.

The three team members were transferred to a local hospital close to the scene in Tacna, Peru, before being flown to a hospital in Lima, Peru for further tests and treatment.

They are stable and recovering well.

A third Race2Recovery Wildcat was forced to retire after an accident but the team's remaining race car progressed to Stage 7.

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