Belfast Telegraph

Dakar Rally 2014: Injured soldier is back at the wheel for 9,000km race

BY CLAIRE GRAHAM

A soldier whose leg was blown off while on patrol in Afghanistan is trading Antrim for Argentina to take on the world’s toughest rally driving race — for the second time.

Corporal Phillip ‘Barney’ Gillespie (25) from Ballymena is putting full throttle into the 2014 Dakar, covering over 9,000km of the world’s toughest terrain.

Beginning in Rosario, on Sunday, the course winds through north through Argentina, into Bolivia and finishing in Valparaiso, Chile on 18 January.

Barney made history last year when the Race2Recovery car he was co-driving crossed the finish line of the Dakar 2013 to become the first ever disabled team to complete the race. He became the first amputee to finish the Dakar Rally.

The Ballymena man lost his right leg below the knee in the Middle East after stepping on an improvised explosive device three years ago.

His incredible achievement taking on the dusty terrain of South America the first time around caught the heart and the attention of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

In a personal message of congratulations, Prince William told the pair what they had achieved was “a triumph of perseverance and teamwork”.

“You have shown the world what true valour looks like”.

This year, Gillespie is partnered with race driver Ben Gott, who has been involved in rallying for 10 years.

Speaking ahead of the race start, Barney 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 a fantastic moment and I can’t wait to get back out to South America.“

Race2Recovery operates to the motto ‘beyond injury, achieving the extraordinary’.

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 competition will cross the Atacama desert and the Andes mountain range.

Official Dakar 2014 website

Download the Dakar Rally 2014 route here [PDF]

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