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Mechanical failure ends Corporal Tom Neathway's Dakar Rally effort
A MECHANICAL failure has forced an injured soldier from Worcester to cut short his bid to complete the gruelling Dakar Rally.
Corporal Tom Neathway, of Crowle, near Worcester, was the co-driver in one of the Race2Recovery team’s Wildcat cars but he and his driver Justin Birchall retired after the vehicle suffered damage during stage four on Tuesday.
Their vehicle was donated to the team by the family of Gordon Chapman, who passed away before he had chance to use the vehicle in his own plans to race in the Dakar.
Corporal Neathway said: “We’re distraught at not being able to continue in the rally and get Gordon’s car to the finish line. 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.
“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.
He added: “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.”
He joined the Parachute Regiment in 2001 but on his last tour of Afghanistan he triggered a booby trap and the subsequent blast resulted in the loss of both his feet.
An infection of his wounds led to amputation of both his legs and his left arm but he still works with the Parachute Regiment and earlier this year carried the Olympic Torch through Worcester as part of the Olympic Torch Relay.
If one of the team’s vehicles reach the finish line they will become the first ever disability team to complete the event.
The team is fund-raising for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre, one of six that have been established as part of the Defence Recovery Capability.
For more information, go to race2recovery.com.