Ballymena man starts Race2Recovery injured soldier Dakar Rally challenge


Race2Recovery, the group of severely injured soldiers who made history as the first disabled rally team to enter, and complete, the Dakar rally in 2013 has set off on this year’s running of the toughest race in the world.

The team, supported by Land Rover, has entered two race vehicles into the 2014 Dakar which will once again put its competitors through the ultimate physical and mental test.

After Day 1, Sunday 5 January, all Race2Recovery vehicles had successfully completed the first special stage.

The Race2Recovery team includes Corporal Phillip ‘Barney’ Gillespie, 25, from Ballymena, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Corporal Gillespie is a below the knee amputee as a result of injuries sustained on active service in Afghanistan. He made history last year when the Race2Recovery car he was co-driving crossed the finish line of the Dakar 2013 to make Race2Recovery the first ever disabled team to complete the race.

This year, Gillespie is partnered with race driver Ben Gott, one of the civilian members of the team who has been involved in rallying for ten years.

Speaking ahead of the race start, Gillespie said: “I’m thrilled that we’ve managed to move the team on after last year’s success. Crossing the finish line last year was such a fantastic moment and I can’t wait to get back out to South America, this time with Ben, and have another shot. We developed so much as a team last year and I really think we’ll see the benefit of that this year.”

“What’s more, we also have the Defender Challenge series to look forward to next year, which gives us chance to compete on UK soil thanks to the fact that our sponsor Land Rover is supporting our entry. We’ll be able to use this as a development platform to develop ourselves, and train new members, ahead of future Dakar races.”

Race2Recovery operates to the motto ‘beyond injury, achieving the extraordinary’. So far, the team has raised over £250,000 for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre and Help for Heroes and, this year, is also raising awareness of military charity Blesma. This year’s Race2Recovery team is made up of 16 injured soldiers and civilian volunteers, including drivers, co-drivers, support vehicle drivers and a crew of technical and mechanical experts.

The injured servicemen will be driving Land Rover Defender-based Wildcat rally-raid vehicles, both of which were entered in last year’s race, as well as a T4 race truck and a T5 support truck, which will follow the route providing support for both race vehicles. Land Rover is assisting the team with parts, logistics, vehicle and financial support throughout their 2014 campaign. In addition, two Land Rover Discovery vehicles provided by Land Rover will support Race2Recovery along the assistance route and will provide vital support to the team throughout the 14 day epic (5 January to 18 January).

The 2014 Dakar will see the team race across some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain. This year’s competition will traverse three countries; Argentina, Bolivia (motorcycles only) and Chile. They will travel over 9,000km, including crossing the Atacama desert and the Andes mountain range, in temperatures that could reach between 40 to 50 degrees celcius.

Mark Cameron, Global Brand Experience Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “We’re very proud of our association with Race2Recovery, having been the team’s lead sponsor since its inception. The team has broken down barriers relating to disability and motorsport and truly lives up to its motto ‘beyond injury, achieving the extraordinary’. The Dakar is the ultimate race and one that has a long association with Land Rover vehicles. We’re pleased that the team can benefit from our support and we wish them the very best of luck. We’ll be following their progress all the way.”

Land Rover has also announced that it will be an official partner of the Red Bull Desert Wings team. Red Bull has chosen Land Rover as the official vehicle supplier for the 2014 Dakar due to its advanced all-terrain expertise and technology to support the various teams under the Red Bull Desert Wings collective. Five Land Rover vehicles have been supplied including Defender, Discovery, all-new Range Rover and Ranger Rover Sport. The Race2Recovery team will benefit from this association as they will be welcomed on a daily basis into the Red Bull bivouac, providing Race2Recovery with additional resource and infrastructure.

People wishing to find out more about Race2Recovery should visit and