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East Lancashire driver fastest in Dakar rally first stage
EAST Lancashire rally driver Justin Birchall was the fastest Briton in the early stages of this year’s Dakar rally.
Justin, who runs Birchall Foodservice, on Hapton’s Network 65 Business Park, was leading the Brit pack in the early stages of the race, and was 116th after two stages of the gruelling event yesterday.
The famous rally, first run in 1978, is taking place across South America this year, and the competitors have been in Peru for the first few days.
Justin is one of four drivers partnering members of the armed forces severely injured in combat, as part of the 28-strong Race2 Recovery team.
After finishing 83rd out of 152 cars in the first leg, Justin said on Twitter: “First stage done.
“Fastest Brit, but it’s a long rally, so no glory yet. Well just a bit.”
Monday’s 243km third stage saw the competitors set off from Pisco in Peru, towards Nazca, in a drive along the ocean.
The stage included a challenging first 80km, with steep sand dunes, before the last 150km incorporating more rolling terrain.
Justin’s co-driver Corporal Tom Neathway is a triple amputee, who suffered horrendous injuries on a tour of Afghanistan in 2008.
He triggered a booby trap, and the blast led to the amputation of both of Tom’s legs and his left arm.
Justin, one of Britan’s leading off road rally specialists, has already competed in the British Cross Country Championships with Tom.
Today will see Justin and Tom take part in a 300km stage heading towards the city of Arequipa, in Peru.