Army team's long road to recovery

Injured soldiers continue their build-up to 2013 Dakar rally with an indoor karting session

On a recent trip to Team Sport Karting at Tower Bridge I caught up with Anthony Harris, driver for the Britpart British Cross Country Championship (BCCC) team, Race2Recovery.

The Royal Fusilier was badly injured in May 2009 by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in Afghanistan, and following 18 months of surgery and infections he took the brave decision to have his left leg amputated below the knee.

Two months later Anthony climbed the highest peak in South Wales, Pen y Fan. “It was so painful I realised I never wanted to do it again!” he tells me at the indoor karting arena. “I didn’t want to sit at my desk all day either and I realised that motor racing is one sport where disabled people can compete on level terms with able-bodied men and women.”

Enter the Race2Recovery team that many of you may have seen featured on Top Gear earlier this year. The team, partly founded by Anthony, is made up entirely of wounded soldiers and ranges from Corporal Tom Neathway, a triple amputee and Anthony’s co-driver, to Warrant Officer Class 1 and team manager Andrew ‘Pav’ Taylor. He suffers from spinal fusion after a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle in Afghanistan.

Their aim? To race in the 2013 Dakar Rally aboard a Wildcat DKR500. The team has been competing in the BCCC this year and has managed to grab some class wins and second places – as well as proving pretty competitive in our karting session.

“Our aim is threefold,” explains Anthony. “First, we want to inspire people by showing them that this sort of thing is possible. We also want to achieve a world first, to do something we wouldn’t have dreamt about before we were blown up. And most importantly, we want to raise as much money as possible for the guys who can’t go and do something like this.

“The driving is a challenge, but one thing I’m fine with is the concentration level and not getting the red mist that some drivers talk about. I suppose six operational tours in seven years tend to make you quite good under pressure. Even if I dink the car, I don’t let it bother me, I just learn from it and move on.”

Anthony is under no illusions about how tough the 9000km (5600-mile) route will be on the 2013 Dakar Rally. “We’re definitely not going for a win! The works teams and professional drivers can do that, the aim for us is to go out there and drive to survive.

“We’ve had a few discussions on what we’ll do after the Dakar and the Le Mans 24 Hours has been suggested. We want to do endurance events that will be a real challenge to even complete, but let’s see how we get on in January.”

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