Mick Extance's life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2017. After getting the news, one of the first things the 56-year-old decided he wanted to do was return to the Dakar, which he completed five times during the 2000s.
Determined not to let his illness stand in the way of his dream, Mick got the green light to participate in this 2020 edition in Saudi Arabia, which means that after racing in Africa and South America he will also be part of chapter three in Dakar history.
Mick will be taking part in the 2020 Dakar on Bridgestone tyres, battling some of the toughest terrain in the world. This extends an eight year relationship between Bridgestone and Mick Extance which includes supporting the Mick Extance Off Road School in Wales.
Who better to explain the journey than the man himself? Mick spoke with the Dakar ahead of the 2020 rally;
“One of the reasons I want to go back is that in 2017 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. And the Dakar soon came back to the front of my mind. It's amazing how things give you that inspiration. I was like, I'll do an eighth Dakar, no problem. They thought I was a bit crazy.
I started treatment at Stoke hospital, and my surgeon, Mr Shaw, he's big into the Dakar. I'd never met him before, but he said it was an honour to operate on me. He also warned me: 'There's a possibility you'll be blind when you wake up, but let us look after you'.
I spent 15 hours in surgery and woke up two and a half days later, with my wife on one side and the surgeon on the other. The minute I started to connect, he said, 'Can you see me, Mick?' - 'Yes, I can see you' - 'Well that's all I needed to know.'
People like that are incredible, so caring and fantastic. I want to get this message across: that when we've got something to chase we can keep smiling and believing in ourselves. Do I feel bad about getting a tumour? No. Has it made me a better person? Yes. My life is about trying to inspire other people.
If we can get it more connected through the Dakar, it's an amazing story. The Dakar grabbed me when I was 17, when I was stood in the pub after too many beers. When my dad passed away, he shook my hand and said, 'make it happen'. So for most of the 2000s my life was all about the Dakar, until I committed to the training centre. Then when I got diagnosed with the tumour, the Dakar was the first thing that came back to me. So roll on January 5th! What a lucky achievement.
To do Africa, South America, and now go back to do the third one in Saudi. Another little tick in the box -you've managed to conquer the Dakar in three different countries.
I want to wave to the world and say 'come on guys, let's all use this as an inspiration
Time becomes precious, but there is still life left for you. You don't drop downwards, you climb upwards.”
You will be able to track 2020 Dakar Rally live through the official Dakar Rally 2020 app, there will also be updates on Mick’s progress shared on the Bridgestone Facebook page.
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