Sport on TV: Unjust deserts as the wheels of fortune stop turning

You've heard of rallying the troops but this was something else. Dakar Rally: Frontline to Finish Line (ITV4, Wednesday) told the story of a team of servicemen with amputated limbs trying to complete the most difficult motor race on the planet. The Race2Recovery team were co-drivers and had dreamt up the challenge two years ago while undergoing rehabilitation. Surely someone must have piped up in the early stages and said: "Not the bloody desert again?" And maybe suggested that they cut their teeth in, say, Wales instead.

The irony is that the off-road "rally raid" was moved to the dunes of South America after the original route through the Sahara desert to Senegal became too dangerous because of terrorist activity.

Captain Tony Harris of the Royal Fusiliers didn't even reach the start line before he came grinding to a halt. He had lost his front-wheel drive and was told that he couldn't stop once he was up and running. Then he broke down again; this time the rear-wheel drive went. He hadn't got much choice but to stop.

If it wasn't bad enough that the Army's faulty field equipment had come back to haunt them here too, the support team were described as "novice mechanics". Another of their Wildcats had problems with its cooling system and Sean Whatley visited a DIY store and installed a section of chimney flue liner to keep air flowing over the fuel pumps. "You don't get the support in the middle of the field fixing a Challenger tank," he boasted. The flue didn't work and they broke down again.

While the cars were overheating, the soldiers admirably kept their cool. But Captain Harris broke down when he was eliminated from the race after failing to finish the second stage. It had been his idea in the first place. It's tempting to think that these brave men might be a few spanners short of a full set but you probably have to be to take part in the Dakar Rally.

Perhaps, as the modern parlance goes, someone should have drawn a line in the sand. Tragedy was lurking around the corner and it didn't even come during the race. Returning to camp, a support car was involved in a road accident and two Peruvian locals were killed. More collateral damage needlessly inflicted. The second part is shown this week, but be warned: it makes for pretty uncomfortable viewing.

* Let's chalk it up for Dechawat Poomjaeng, who at long last has shown what it would be like if your average bloke rocked up to the World Snooker Championships to shoot a few frames.

Against Michael White (World Snooker, BBC1, Thursday) the Thai player managed to miss the ball he was aiming for three times in a row while trying to use the bridge, even though he wasn't even snookered, and had to concede a frame for the first time in Crucible history.

"He'll be playing a different shot, that's one thing for certain," said an unimpressed Willie Thorne before his third attempt, but our man just did his own thing. Then he left his cue on the table as he stormed off, presumably to get a pint and a pack of pork scratchings.

There have been many maverick players down the years but none with whom we can really identify. They're usually far too good. Luckily there's not much chance of that happening with Poomjaeng.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there