(neduro) made a comment/observation prior to his Dakar debut in 2012, during his preparation/lead up to the event - which I found to be most insightful in nature;
"A lot of people enter DAKAR with the goal of finishing... and end up geting caught up in competing..."
(or words to that effect... I don't have an exact quote at hand).
The interesting thing with this comment (which is 110% spot on) is that for many competitors (especially those that fill the bottom two thirds of the starting field, or those attempting the Dakar - any rally for that matter - for the first time)
approach the event with an expressed goal, training and physical/mechanical preparation regime, that they "just want to finish"...
to make the DAKAR finish line.
It's true of both the Moto, Auto, Quad and SxS categories... competitors et out a plan/program (with consideration to budget constraints etc.) of how they are going to approach the rally, with an aim to finish
... but often, once the flag drops - get caught up in the ferver of "competing".
You know the deal... on the start line interviews it's all; "Yeah... I'm gonna take it easy, ride/drive within myself... take care of the machine... I just want to finish... the result does not matter to me..."
Then typically (with some of the recent DAKAR's relatively easy day 1 & 2 legs) at the end of the second leg, while looking at the results sheets you will here these kind of comments; "Well geeze... I'm only 20 minutes behind so and so..." or "I was only taking it easy... and I'm in the top 100..." or similar.
Then the thought processes start to creep in; "You know... I reckon, if I just go a bit quicker tomorrow..."
and there it begins. The original gameplan of "just finishing"
becomes "let's press on for a result"
and it is THAT which often brings the less experienced competitor undone in the long run.
If a capable driver/navigator in a soundly prepared 4WD competition vehicle (even a relatively modest one like the Bowler Tomcats that the R2Recovery team are planning on running),
drive the course to a conservative pace/time plan of "finishing" each day (within the allotted time set for each leg), then there is a better than 50% chance to achieve this. But where the wheels fall off (literally) is when the driver/vehicle start to "push" above this envelope... things break... competitors make misstakes... you get stuck/broke... time/weariness starts to take its toll... and the team slip back down through the results list (from where they otherwise would have just trundled along) and the metaphoric "snow ball" catches up with them.
There is a French driver who has won the T2 (production category) of DAKAR multiple times (I think more than any other), and in the past one of his prime tactics for DAKAR was to NOT even look at the result sheet until the rest day. His gameplan was to drive the car to the terrain, and his understanding of what the vehicle could sustain/maintain (remember the T2 vehicles are by design - basically production vehicles equipped with some saftey and security equipment, but very limited modifications in terms of performance, suspension and chassis).
Once to the rest day (halfway point of the rally) he would look to the results. Often, many of his competitors were broken/further back because of overtaxing the material... and "Jippe" - still with a vehicle in good condition, could "compete" for the second week, having kept the material in good condition.
Similar stories of the Marathon and Malle Moto riders in the Moto category are also true.
Although the Race 2 Recovery team have no prior DAKAR/rally experience... obviously their time in military service and the skills/training they have from that put them in good stead. The fact that they have been injured in service of their country and the disabilities that they suffered as a result, make their challenge one that the media will - obviously - show interest in.
In the past there have been amputees/paraplegics that have entered the DAKAR and finished...some have done exceedingly well. That these ex-servicemen can take on the task and "finish", I believe is achievable provided that they stick to the expressed goal of "finishing"... Given their military background, it is not inconcievable that these guys can set that mission plan and follow it to execution... if they do so and not get caught up in the "race" then there is no reason they can't do it...*
And of course the CPR and rescue demonstrations for the media, assorted dignitries and ladies of the Woman's Military Auxilliary all make for good PR eh?
*Mind you one thing I would be planning - for the triple amputee (I assume he is the co-driver) is a set of second controls in the car - so when they get bogged in dunes, the able bodied (driver) can hop out an work the sand ladders/tow strap etc.) as I can't imagine flip flopping around with three prosthesis is going to be all that effective when bogged the Peru/Fiambal dunes etc.
For the 2013 Dakar, it does not seem there will be the "easy" transport/gravel stages the first couple of days... some hard core stages more or less from the start.
Roll on january... good luck everyone!