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Injured soldiers race for charity
A team of injured soldiers are beginning the world's toughest rally in South America, hoping to become the first disability team to complete it.
The Race2Recovery team, which has been raising funds for Forces charities since 2011, competes in the Dakar Rally starting in Lima, Peru, and ending in Santiago, Chile, on January 20.
The team's four Wildcat race vehicles will travel some 5,600 miles of extreme mountain and desert terrain that will take them through southern Peru, across the border into Argentina and then to Chile over 15 days.
A host of celebrities including Dame Kelly Holmes and Robbie Williams have taken to social media to show their support for the team and wish them luck. Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, a motoring enthusiast, sent a video message to the Race2Recovery team praising them for putting the focus on ability rather than disability.
Captain Tony Harris, 31, who had his lower leg amputated while serving in Afghanistan, is one of the rally drivers. He said: "Having been part of Race2Recovery right from the beginning and having put in so much work, along with the rest of the team, it feels surreal to finally be in Lima and be hours away from revving up on the start line."
The team has the motto Beyond Injury - Achieving The Extraordinary, and set up its Dakar Rally challenge to inspire people who may be injured, ill or facing adversity.
The 28-strong team includes members who were wounded in combat and have missing limbs, spinal injuries and psychological and fragmentation injuries. It will have support from a fleet of vehicles including a 4x4 truck that will race with it, plus 8x8 support trucks and a number of Land Rover Discovery vehicles to help move the support team and mechanical equipment.
The team received royal backing when it became the first recipient of a grant from the Endeavour Fund, set up by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Nick Booth, chief executive of The Royal Foundation, said: "The Royal Foundation is delighted to be supporting the Race2Recovery team through the Endeavour Fund. Not only is it a fantastic challenge for those involved but we hope their success will also provide inspiration for many others who may be wounded, injured or sick and will be motivated to try their own sporting or other challenges as part of their recovery."
All proceeds raised by the team go to the Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre, Tidworth, Wiltshire, which is part of a Government-led initiative to help wounded and sick servicemen and women recover.