Published on January 5th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Race2Recovery Team Ready For Dakar 2014
Frontline to Finish Line is the compelling story a group of former British and American servicemen -seriously injured in battle – as they became the first team of amputees to take on the toughest rally on earth, with their team Race2Recovery. Originally broadcast in the UK on ITV4, the 2x1hr series will premiere internationally in 39-countries on Thursday 5th December at 17:25 [GMT] on Discovery World. Episode 2 will be shown on 12th December at 17:25 GMT.
The Dakar saw the Race2Recovery team race almost 6000 miles over 15 days through Peru, Argentina and Chile. They tackled some of the most challenging, isolated terrain in the world, from giant, coastal sand dunes to the top of the Andes. The Dakar is the ultimate test of man and machine versus the elements, but for the Race2Recovery team, there was an added challenge. Each of the four cars contained an amputee serviceman as part of the two-man crew. Co-driver Corporal Tom Neathway, for example, is a triple amputee, having lost both legs and an arm while serving in Afghanistan.
The rally was the culmination of two years’ hard work. The idea for Race2Recovery grew out of a conversation between Neathway and Captain Tony Harris at Headley Court Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre and quickly grew into a twenty-eight strong rally team, comprised of volunteers and servicemen. Harris became the first amputee driver to enter the Dakar, using a specially adapted clutch pedal.
The team’s target was to get four Land Rover-based Wildcat vehicles across the finish line, but things did not go according to plan. Within days, three of the Wildcats had been forced to retire, one in a horrifying rollover crash. The tears flowed as the crews saw their dream turn into a nightmare. The infamous Dakar had bitten hard but against the odds, the remaining Wildcat ‘Joy’, named after a team benefactor, struggled on. Joy made it to the finish line in Santiago de Chile and co-driver Corporal Barney Gillespie became the first amputee to complete the Dakar.
“It was almost two years to the day since I was blown up in Afghanistan,” said Gillespie at the finish. “There were dark days when I thought life as I knew it was over, but I hope I’ve shown that serious injury is no barrier to doing extraordinary things. Everyone here’s been through so much, but we’ve all supported each other. It’s been an emotional journey, but we made it.”
This moving documentary was produced by Gaucho Productions and directed by award winning director Tim Pritchard (Ross Kemp on Gangs) and uses a host of different cameras to capture the inside story of the tears, tantrums and triumphs. “This has been an amazing story to tell,” says Gaucho Productions Executive Producer, Alistair Weaver. “Everyone involved in the project has been enthralled by the bravery and commitment of the Race2Recovery team. From a bar room chat to the finish line of the Dakar, they have had an extraordinary adventure and we’re thrilled to have brought it to life.”