A TEAM of injured soldiers, including a Yate war veteran, has been forced to retire from a road race in south America.

The Race2Recovery team had to pull out its two cars from the 2014 Dakar challenge after mechanical failure.

The team includes ex-Royal Mechanical Engineer Lee Townsend who served in first Gulf War, Bosnia and the Falklands conflicts.

Lee, 43, and from Yate, was a member of the support crew specialising in providing mechanical support to the team’s race vehicles and support trucks.

Lee was competing in the event, dubbed the world’s toughest road race, despite being one of three British men to be injured in a head-on crash in last year’s event.

Two bystanders were killed in the collision in Peru on January 15 but Lee and his teammates went on to make history by becoming the first disabled rally team to complete the event.

This year, however, they could not reach the finish line of the 9,000lm-race across Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

The team had entered two race cars and a T4 truck, to support the race cars, which progressed well in the early stages. However, on Stage 2, the first car suffered a failure and the second rolled end-to-end as it was progressing down a large sand dune.

Driver and team founder Tony Harris said: “We’re clearly very disappointed that we’ve had to retire two race vehicles.

“Our preparations had gone very well but this year’s experience just goes to show why they call the Dakar the toughest race in the world.

“As a team, we’ll now focus on the T4 truck and put all our efforts in trying to keep this vehicle in the Dakar. We want to stay in the race as long as possible and we’re proud that our efforts continue to raise the profile of military charities including Tedworth House, Help For Heroes and Blesma.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has supported our Dakar challenge so far.”

The rally is due to end on January 18 in Chile.

Race2Recovery 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.

Visit www.race2recovery.com for more information about the team.