Limbless man to ride Dakar Rally

2016-04-08 14:09
Dakar Rally (File)

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2016-03-24 12:24

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Rouillé - Frenchman Philippe Croizon has no arms and no legs but that didn't stop him becoming the first quadruple amputee to swim the English Channel.

And the 48-year-old adventurer has set his sights on a new challenge: to complete the Dakar Rally.

Croizon will drive a specially modified buggy during the gruelling two-week rally in Argentina next January, using just the stumps of his arms.

"As I can neither touch the steering wheel or the peddles, I'll drive using a hydraulic joystick," he said.

"I'll manage the acceleration, braking and direction with the stump of my right arm.

"With the left, I'll operate a selector. I push a button to talk to my co-driver, I push to gear shift up and pull to come back down; that replaces the clutch - it's like a video game!"

Croizon has been living life from a wheelchair since 1994 when he was electrocuted while trying to take down his television aerial, subsequently having all four limbs amputated.

On Thursday, he was strapped into the seat to test the two-wheel buggy for the first time.

"I'm bound up like a roast dinner!", he joked.

Because of his disability, Croizon's co-driver will have a lot more tasks than is the norm.

"Usually I just look after the navigation but here I also have to start the engine, work the indicators, the horn, the windscreen wipers," said Matthieu Bouthet about his role in the 340 horsepower, V6 Nissan powered buggy.

The vehicle is capable of reaching speeds of up to 150km/h but Croizon isn't aiming to win the rally.

"The aim is not to go for a time. My dream is not to challenge Sebastien Loeb, but to cross the finishing line in Buenos Aires," he said.

"Seeing my dream through, not being one of the 51 percent who abandon, like last year."

Croizon will need to get used to spending 10-15 hours a day strapped into his buggy and he is giving himself eight months to prepare.

"As before every adventure, I'm not going lightheartedly. I'm undertaking a massive physical training programme to prepare my arms, my glutes."

There's just one more step to take, though, before Croizon can be sure to take part.

He needs to raise 600 000 and he's currently short by 200 000.

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