Mick chases Dakar Rally dream – no matter what

Mick chases Dakar Rally dream – no matter what

23 Jan

By Brett Emerson

At Bridgestone, Our ‘No Matter What’ slogan could have been written for Mick Extance. The 57-year-old – who we’ve teamed up with for off-road motocross experiences at his centre in Wales for various sell-in / sell-out retail campaigns – had a 1% chance of retaining his sight after undergoing an operation to remove a 5cm brain tumour.

One 15-hour operation later and almost two years to the day, he was back on his bike to compete in the gruelling 8,000km Dakar Rally, spanning 12 days in near-impossible conditions across Saudi Arabia.

Naturally, we were on board with a supply of our Enduro E50 tyres to keep him on track and as the dust settles on his eighth Dakar Rally – and sixth completed event – Mick reflects on his most amazing adventure of all, when 1% was enough.

“I was on my bike, working up in the mountains and I just didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel myself and all I knew was that I had to get off that mountain and get myself to hospital. The next thing I know I’m told I’ve got a 5cm brain tumour at the back of my eye.

“I thought they’d got the wrong person. When Mr Shaw, the surgeon, said they needed to operate immediately, I definitely thought they’d got the wrong person. I just remember him telling me there was a 99% chance I’d lose my sight once I came back around.

“As I was about to go under the knife, he told me he’d read about me doing the Dakar Rally seven times.
I told him I’d do my eighth one day. He shook my hand said ‘I like that Mick.’ Him saying that eased me.

“When I came back around he asked me if I could see him, and I smiled and said I could, crystal clear. The main message to take from this is that we all need something positive to aspire to, because that positivity can take you a long way – 8,000km in my case.

“It would have been easy to go backwards rather than forwards and the Dakar Rally was a big inspiration for me.”

After some notable ups and downs – the main one being the loss of a former teammate in an accident at the top of the field to underline the dangers of the race – he made it to the finishing line on Bridgestone tyres.

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It must surely rank as one of the most incredible efforts in the history of the event, which Mick himself is classed in the ‘legends’ category for completing routes in South America, Morocco and now Saudi Arabia.

“Rolling off the podium on January 5 with my son Adam and wife Andrea watching me was an emotional moment, for sure. It wasn’t without its challenges and it wasn’t easy, but I knew what I was letting myself in for. Breaking down in the desert, in the pitch black, in freezing temperatures at night-time is a character builder. You’ve just got to narrow the picture and condense it all down to what it is. I had to fix my bike. If you want to get to the finish line, you’ll find a way to get that medal at the end of it all. I’ll be giving it to Mr Shaw when I see him for my next check-up. It belongs to him.”

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Brett Emerson
Bridgestone’s Consumer Business Unit Director, Brett Emerson, boasts a wealth of knowledge in the automotive ...
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