This weekend was an exceptional one for Race2Recovery, the team of disabled servicemen and women aiming to complete the 2013 Dakar Rally to raise funds for injured servicemen and their families. Saturday saw the team at Rallyday, where they were fundraising by auctioning rides in various vehicles. On Sunday, Tony Harris took to the wheel of the R2R Freelander on the fifth round of the Britpart British Cross Country Championship gaining further experience of slippery conditions and the chance to assess the benefits of the new Ohlins suspension.
The organisers of Rallyday, the UK’s premier rally show, had kindly offered the Race2Recovery team the opportunity to raise funds by selling and auctioning off rides in a variety of Qt Wildcats on the off-road course at the event. The campaign’s patron, former soldier and Top Gear Stig and accomplished race and performance driver Ben Collins was on hand to give four rides while Dakar drivers Harris and Qt’s Dave Marsh were also at the wheel.
In addition, several other Qt owners also came along to lend their support, giving rides to the public. These included former Dakar and Gumball rally competitor Ben Gott, who also brought one of his monstrous T5 support vehicles for display, which the team will be using to maintain its campaign on the Dakar.
The fleet of Wildcats ran almost constantly throughout the day, with a queue of eager fans awaiting their white-knuckle ride with anticipation. In fact, the only time that they stopped was when their thirst for fuel outweighed the team’s capacity for adrenaline. However, motorsport fuel supplier Vital Equipment soon donated enough fuel to the team to keep the five Wildcats running until the end of the day.
But it was not only the Wildcats that helped to raise funds for Race2Recovery’s goals. The Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team gave R2R a passenger ride with WRC driver Matthew Wilson to auction off and MML Sports did the same, as passenger with former works driver Harri Rovanpera in its Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX R4.
If dodging the torrential showers at Castle Combe was not enough, the team moved overnight from Wiltshire to south Wales for the fifth round of the Britpart British Cross Country Championship, at Brynffyon. The mud at RallyDay had certainly challenged the team but the conditions at Brynffyon were even worse. However, the team was able to gain highly useful experience on treacherous conditions and immediately see the benefits from the all-new Ohlins suspension set-up, provided by UK distributor Auroks.
In addition, the team was amazed to be presented with a cheque for £1000 by Vonnie Kempster, the widow of respected competitor Ray, who died in 2010 following an accident while competing. The Race2Recovery team had taken part in the Ray Kempster Memorial Rally earlier this year, by invitation of the organisers and the rally had raised the money to support R2R in Ray’s name.
Commenting, Harris said: “This was an amazing weekend – there’s no other way to describe it. Two events over two days with very different objectives but we were lucky enough to have incredible success in both.
“The response the whole team received at Rallyday was nothing short of incredible. The public was so receptive and understanding, as were the organisers and everyone we met. We had members of the team out collecting donations and the visitors really dug deep to show their support.
“It was also fantastic to see so many people supporting the cause by taking rides in the Wildcats. Literally the only time we stopped was to get more fuel for the cars and then we simply carried on again. The energy and effort the guys put in to keep the cars going and getting passengers in and out was amazing and I’m delighted that everyone seemed to enjoy their ride and helped us to raise an incredible amount – far more than we could have hoped for.
“To go out and follow that up with the event at Brynffyion was interesting to say the least. I thought Castle Combe was starting to get muddy but it was like a racetrack compared with Sunday’s action. It was a long, tough and very wet weekend but incredibly rewarding and I am very grateful to everyone who made it possible.
“The whole team is also incredibly grateful to Vonnie for the generous donation that she presented to the team. Ray was an extremely well-respected racer and is, of course, sorely missed and we are very proud to accept this donation in his honour.”
The team’s next event will be the Scottish Borders Hill Rally in November. However, it also has plans to contest several stage rallies before the end of the year, to gain navigational and servicing experience and details will be confirmed soon.
For more information: www.race2recovery.co.uk