Three British men have been badly injured in a Dakar Rally crash

Last Updated: 11/01/13 2:59pm

Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah (R) ahead of the rally's fifth day

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.

The support vehicle the three team men 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.

Justin Birchall, 40, a team driver and civilian volunteer from Burnley, Lancashire, 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 were all injured in the crash.

The men, who are part of a team of injured soldiers taking part in the challenge, 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".

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.

Support 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."

The rally began in Lima on Saturday and ends in Santiago, Chile, on 20 January.