A FORMER Royal Marine and Crowlas garage owner is rapidly finding out why the Dakar Rally is reputedly the world's toughest.
Last year, the Race2Recovery team made history as the first disabled rally team to enter and complete the Dakar Rally.
This year's challenge started in South America on Monday, with Alec Savery as a new man on the Race2Recovery team.
Aged 38, a keen 4x4 and Land Rover enthusiast and owner of Rospeath 4x4 Garage and Rooftents Ltd at Crowlas, Alec was earmarked to play a key role within the Race2Recovery support crew, helping to support the team's two race cars and race truck.
However, after an uneventful first day, on Stage 2 one of the race cars suffered engine failure and its crew, Ben Gott and Phillip Gillespie, were forced to withdraw.
Not long after, the car driven by Tony Harris and Quin Evans rolled end-to-end as it was descending a large dune.
The vehicle landed on its wheels and made it through to the end of the stage but on inspection by the team mechanics was found to have suffered damage to the roll cage, which meant it had to be withdrawn for safety reasons.
However, the T4 race truck, which had stopped to help a stranded team on Stage 2, will aim to complete the event, which started on Sunday and ends on January 18.
Speaking before the rally started, Alec said: "I'm delighted to be able to bring my experience to the team for this year's challenge.
"I hope my contribution this year can play a role in repeating the success of last year.
"I think it's great that the team is looking to bring new people on board and I can't wait to experience all the thrills that go hand in hand with the Dakar rally."
The rally will see competitors battle to make it over more than 9,000km of some of the world's toughest terrain.
It started in Rosario in Argentina, a city of more than a million people 180 miles north west of Buenos Aires, and competitors then head north before making their way down the Pacific coast of Chile, ending in Valparaiso. En route the competitors will cross the Atacama desert and the Andes mountains, in temperatures that could reach 40 to 50C.
Race2Recovery has the motto Beyond Injury, Achieving the Extraordinary, and to date the team has raised more than £250,000 for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre and Help for Heroes. This year it is also raising awareness of the military charity Blesma, for disabled service personnel.
There is more information about Race2Recovery at www.race2recovery.com and www.uk.media.landrover.com