Businessman forced out of gruelling Dakar Rally

WHERE ARE WE?: Justin Birchall (far right) with his navigator Tom Neathway and Road2Recovery crew (S)

WHERE ARE WE?: Justin Birchall (far right) with his navigator Tom Neathway and Road2Recovery crew (S)

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A HAPTON businessman competing in the world famous Dakar Rally has been forced to withdraw.

Justin Birchall, operations director at Birchall Foodservice in Hapton, completed the first few days of the world’s toughest motorsport event as part of Race2Recovery – the first disabled team ever to enter the rally.

The team of British and American servicemen who have been wounded in action, set out to prove that serious injuries are no barrier to achievement, and to raise money for the Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre in Wiltshire.

The Race2Recovery Wildcat of driver Justin and co-driver Cpl Tom Neathway suffered mechanical failure as a result of major damage caused by a punishing run on Stage 4.

Both Justin and Tom were confirmed as safe but have been forced to retire their vehicle from the race. Justin said “It’s clearly a sad way for myself and Tom to end our rally and we’re very disappointed that we’re not able to compete any further.

“That said, we have also been reflecting on the achievement that was simply getting to the start line and also the fantastic support that Race2Recovery continues to receive. We will be doing everything we can to support the team as it continues to try and push its way towards the finish line.”

Should one or more of the Race2Recovery race vehicles reach the finish line then they will become the first ever disability team to complete the Dakar Rally.

The Dakar Rally covers 9,000km over 15 days on a route through Peru, Argentina and Chile. Only 40% of those who enter finish the race. The first day of the race involved a 187km road stage plus 13km through the Peruvian desert.

For more information on the team visit www.race2recovery.com.