Dakar return one year after horror accident

Justin Birchall - Dakar Rally (S)
Justin Birchall - Dakar Rally (S)

Car-crazy Burnley food company boss Justin Birchall is back in South America for the world’s toughest motor race.

Mr Birchall (41), operations director at Birchall Foodservice at Network 65 Business Park in Hapton, is again joining the Race2Recovery team of injured servicemen to take part in the world-famous Dakar Rally.

Last year’s event ended in horrific fashion for Mr Birchall whose convoy of vehicles was involved in a crash which left a taxi pasenger dead.

Mr Birchall suffered back in juries in the incident and was taken to hospital. But he has made a full recovery and has not been deterred from tackling the gruelling event once again.

The father-of-three and his co-driver, triple amputee Tom Neathway, were one of four pairings who competed in the rally last year.

This time, Mr Birchall, who lives at Widdop, is helping two other sets of hopefuls as part of the race management team supporting the challenge, which starts on January 5th in Argentina and travels through Bolivia and Chile before finishing on January 18th.

Race2Recovery are the only disabled rally team in the world.

The injured servicemen will be driving Land Rover Defender-based Wildcat rally-raid vehicles, both of which were in last year’s race. A support truck will follow the route to assist both teams.

The rally team’s venture is also raising money for Help for Heroes and the charity’s Tedworth House recovery centre that encourages wounded, injured, sick and returning veterans to lead active independent and fulfilling lives.

Said Mr Birchall: “I can’t wait to help the team take on this ultimate challenge.

“We learnt a lot last year and, this time around, we have set our sights set even higher. Not only do we hope to finish the race again – we also aim to provide some real competition to the teams without disabilities.”