Britons injured in rally crash

News Shopper: The Race2Recovery team were taking part in the Dakar Rally, billed as the world's toughest race of its kind The Race2Recovery team were taking part in the Dakar Rally, billed as the world's toughest race of its kind

Three British men including two former soldiers have been badly injured in a crash in South America as they were taking part in what is billed as the world's toughest rally.

A spokesman for the Race2Recovery team said a support vehicle the three team members were travelling in during the Dakar Rally was involved in a head-on collision in Peru which is believed to have left two other people dead.

The three men, who are part of a team of injured soldiers taking part in the challenge, were named as Justin Birchall, 40, a team driver and civilian volunteer from Burnley, Lancashire, whose Wildcat vehicle retired earlier in the race, former Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer and Gulf War and Falklands war veteran Lee Townsend, a team mechanic, from Yate near Bristol, and retired Army Major John Winskill, 42, the team logistics expert, who is from Durrington, near Salisbury, Wiltshire.

The men were transferred to a local hospital and later flown by aircraft to another hospital in Lima where they are said to be "stable and conscious" with injuries described as "non-life-threatening".

Their families have been informed of the accident by other team members.

The crash happened when their vehicle, a Land Rover Defender, was travelling in convoy on day five of the rally with other support vehicles in the Peruvian town of Tacna, near the Chilean border.

It is understood that two other vehicles were involved in the accident and two people received fatal injuries.

Team leader Captain Tony Harris said: "Our hearts go out to the families and relatives of those who have died in this tragic accident and we offer them our condolences and sympathy.

"Our entire team has been struck by the friendliness and support we have received from the Peruvian people since arriving for the Dakar Rally."

He said that the team had unanimously agreed to continue the challenge with the two remaining Wildcat vehicles. "The team decided before we even started that we would continue our endeavour. This is obviously a huge shock but we know that we have the blessing of the injured. They want the team to finish," the captain added.

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