• PWD racing team aims for Le Mans conquest

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    Members of Team BRIT pose for a photo after a karting practice session at the Circuit Alain Prost in France. 24H-LEMANS.COM

    Members of Team BRIT pose for a photo after a karting practice session at the Circuit Alain Prost in France. 24H-LEMANS.COM

    Team BRIT, which stands for British Injured Troops, is out to show the world that persons with disability (PWD) can be competitive in the rigorous world of endurance-car racing.

    Composed of British soldiers that have physical and psycho-social disabilities ranging from amputees to people with post-traumatic stress disorder, Team BRIT is working on entering the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018. According to its website, the team is a branch of KartForce, which is made up of a team of serving and ex-serving injured troops that race in karting events around the country and abroad.

    Team BRIT said it believes in the well-known power of sport in aiding and assisting post-trauma recovery through intense and testing environments, and through the adaptation of disability to different environments. The team also wants inspire other PWDs by showing them what can be achieved in the face of adversity.

    “These injured soldiers are the type of characters that thrive on pushing themselves to their limits and then keep pushing beyond the pain barriers of bruised ribs, blistered hands and other aches and pains,” said KartForce and Team BRIT founder Lance Corporal Martyn Compton in an interview posted at the 24 Hours of Le Mans website. “And being soldiers, they look after each other, work really well as a team and follow instructions to the letter.”

    A report from the Daily Mail said Compton sustained burns to 70 percent of his body in a Taliban rocket attack in August 2006. He also lost his ears and nose, and his eyelids were fused inside out. He likewise has limited use of his arms and has no sweat glands over much of his body. The report also said he will need constant medical care and frequent surgery for the rest of his life.

    Besides Compton and team mate Mark Allen, Team BRIT is also preparing Gemma Trotter, an above-knee amputee who recently joined the team, through an intensive driver-development program. She will compete in 4- to 6-hour races next season, as well as some 12-hour and 24-hour races.

    “It’s going to be the hardest and longest road we’ll ever take!” Trotter said.“We have a fantastic and totally dedicated team, all with the same goal. We are in no doubt that we’ll only reach the end of the road if we want it enough – we need to make it happen, as no one will make it happen for us.”

    Compton said support from British rock band Coldplay has been a big help in their campaign. “It wasn’t just about just the funds, but having the support of Coldplay has helped us attract sponsors and given us more media exposure in the process,” he said.

    “We have some very exciting plans being discussed with Coldplay that will all be revealed over the coming months. Their bass guitarist, Guy Berryman, is a huge petrol head – he restores cars himself and has a very interesting collection,” he also said.

    Should the team make it Le Mans, Compton said he has no plans to stop there. “These guys will find a new target to set their aim on. And the story will start up once again,” he added.

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