Hapton driver embarks on Dakar rally

Lancashire Telegraph: Corporal Tom Neathway, Justin Birchall and Corporal Phillip Gillespie in the bivouac garage preparing one of the team’s Wildcat race vehicles, in Lima, Peru, before the Dakar Rally Corporal Tom Neathway, Justin Birchall and Corporal Phillip Gillespie in the bivouac garage preparing one of the team’s Wildcat race vehicles, in Lima, Peru, before the Dakar Rally

INTREPID rally driver Justin Birchall has set off on one of the world’s most dangerous races.

Justin, who runs Birchall Foodservice in Hapton’s Network 65 Business Park, successfully completed the first stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally yesterday.

Justin is one of four drivers partnering members of the armed forces severely injured in combat as part of the 28-strong Race2 Recovery team.

With co-driver Cpl Tom Neathway he aims to tackle 9,000 kilometres of desert sand dunes in South America over the next 14 days.

The pair finished 84th out of 152 cars in the first leg in Peru yesterday morning.

Tom, a member of the Parachute Regiment, is a triple amputee who suffered horrendous injuries on a tour of Afghanistan in 2008.

He triggered a booby trap and the blast led to the amputation of both of Tom’s legs and his left arm.

He is the first triple amputee ever to enter the race.

Justin, one of Britian’s leading off road rally specialists has already competed in the British Cross Country Championships with Tom.

Speaking before the race, the dad-of-three said: “I’m humbled to be part of the Race2Recovery team.

“The Dakar is a childhood dream that’s coming true.

“The main difficulty during the Dakar is getting stuck in the sand. It’ll be up to me to get out. But being at the start is an achievement in itself.

“We’ll probably have big smiles and a sense of fear. We’re not on the Dakar to win it but just to get to the finish and that would be a major achievement.”

The Race2Recovery team whose motto is Beyond Injury – Achieving the Extraordinary has been the focus of TV crews from around the world and aims to inspire those injured or facing adversity..

The team hopes to raise £25,000 for Tedworth House, a Help for Heroes project based in Wiltshire.

To make a donation visit http://justgiving.com/Justin-Birchall

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