On UK TV tonight, Frontline to Finish Line, with the second part on Friday. From today's Independent
"Regular readers of the Independent blogs might recall an epic series in January about a team of amputees taking on the infamous Dakar Rally. From a tent in the desert, Producer Geoff Dibben told the inside story of an extraordinary journey across South America, with some huge crashes, tragic accidents and, ultimately a happy denouement. Geoff was part of a Gaucho Productions team filming the rally for a television documentary, which is about to debut on ITV4. Dakar Rally: Frontline to Finish Line will be shown on ITV4 this Wednesday (24th) at 9pm, concluding on Friday at the same time.
Although the series captures the stunning vistas of South America and the drama of high performance rally cars charging across epic sand dunes, it’s really a buddy movie about a group of seriously injured servicemen taking on a remarkable challenge. Directed by Tim Pritchard (Ross Kemp on Gangs), the Gaucho team had cameras in the cars, on the ground and in the air, giving an intimate insight into Race2Recovery’s struggles as they took on the world’s toughest rally.
Each of the Land Rover-based Wildcat rally cars was also provided with a camcorder so the rally crews could film themselves. The footage we received back was better than we could ever have imagined. When British amateur rally driver Ben Gott and double-amputee US Marine Mark Zambon had a horrifying crash at night in the desert, the images they shot on their camcorder are amongst the most moving you’ll ever see.
For everyone involved, it was an amazing journey. Our filming schedule was insane. We’d scramble out of our tents around 6.30am, shoot the cars leaving then head off down the service road to intercept them on the special stage. Then we’d drive on to the nightly bivouac, shoot them arriving in the early hours, download the footage, set everything to recharge, pitch our tents and prepare to do it all again. For the first six nights, we averaged around three hours sleep.
But it was worth it. Without wishing to spoil the story for those who didn’t read the blogs back in January, Frontline to Finish Line does have a happy ending. The team’s remaining Wildcat ‘Joy’, named after a team benefactor, overcame overheating problems to struggle on to Chile, piloted by the novice crew of Major Matt O’Hare and amputee Corporal ‘Barney’ Gillespie.
Dakar Rally: Frontline to Finish Line is an inspiring story of human will triumphing against the odds. We hope you enjoy it.
Dakar Rally: Frontline to Finish Line will be shown on ITV4 in two parts, staring on Wednesday, 24th April at 9pm and concluding on Friday, 26th April at 9pm. Donations to the team’s fundraising campaign can be made at www.race2recovery.com