It’s the end of the road for troops’ rally dream

Flashback: The Race2Recovery team in action at last year’s rally; below, this year’s team with their support vehicles

Warrant Officer (Class 2) Chris Astles

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

DISAPPOINTMENT has struck an off-road rally team of severely injured troops, supported by a soldier from Faringdon, trying to conquer a South American competition.

Warrant Officer (Class 2) Chris Astles, 35, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was enduring sweltering conditions to help the Race2Recovery team battle their way through the Dakar Rally 2014.

But the two cars they had entered have been put out of action.

One of the two Land Rover Defender-based vehicles rolled as it was driving down a large sand dune on Monday, while the other suffered engine failure.

Even though the first car landed on its wheels and got to the end of the stage, mechanics discovered critical damage to the roll cage.

The team’s T4 truck, which was also entered in the race and includes amputee servicemen Daniel Whittingham in its crew, will continue with the challenge.

Mr Harris, who founded the team said: “We are very disappointed.

“Our preparations had gone very well, but this year’s experience just goes to show why they call the Dakar the toughest race in the world.”

The Oxford Times:

  • Warrant Officer (Class 2) Chris Astles

Mr Astles has seen active service in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone and was using his skills for the second year in a row to help the two vehicles through some of the toughest off-road stages in the world.

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Speaking before travelling out for the start of the race, Mr Astles said: “Race2Recovery is an inspiration for a lot of people and the injured members of the team have done a huge amount to show that injury doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving something amazing.”

The team made history last year as the first disabled rally team to enter and complete the Dakar Rally, which started in Rosario, Argentina, on Sunday.

It will finish in Valparaiso, Chile, by January 18, after passing through Bolivia.

The route covers more than 8,000km and crosses rivers, deserts, canyons and the Andes mountains.

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