CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Robby Gordon will begin his tenth Dakar Rally in Rosario, Argentina Jan. 5 as one of 149 international competitors as he again competes to become the first American in history to win the most extreme and demanding motorsports event in the world.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s best off-road racers, Gordon’s previous attempts at overall Dakar Rally victory have resulted in an amazing nine stage victories, however, the overall title has eluded him. In 2005, his initial Dakar Rally effort, he become the first American to win a stage in the race which began in 1979.
Entering its 35th edition, Frenchmen have dominated the Rally, taking 19 overall victories. Finland has produced five race winners, Japan three, Germany two and one each from South Africa, Belgium, Qatar, Spain and Sweden.
“I feel more prepared than in any of our previous trips to the Dakar Rally,” Gordon said. “Since our first race in 2005, where we accomplished our goal of becoming the first American to win a stage, our focus has been on winning the overall title. I believe with the experience we have, and the new car we have built, this year could be our time.”
Known for building the fastest and most innovative off-road vehicles in the world, in 2014 Gordon is introducing a brand-new race car for his Dakar effort, the lightest and most technologically advanced machine he has ever built. The car was built in North Carolina and draws off of designs and experience that have propelled him to three Baja 1000 victories, four Baja 500 victories and seven Score-International Off-Road Championships in addition to his Dakar stage victories. The SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires sponsored HST Gordini is an FIA-chassis truck built on top of 37-inch Toyo Tires and around a V-8 engine. Finding speed should not be a challenge for Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch.
“Since our first trip to Dakar with our own car in 2006 (Gordon drove for Volkswagen in 2005), Toyo Tires has been there with me. In last year’s Rally we had no tire failures in the entire race – truly amazing. With that same kind of performance and the fact that we have had the fastest car for several years, we will just need to eliminate mistakes to try to capture the overall title in the world’s toughest race.”
Gordon’s top overall finish in the Dakar Rally came in 2009 when he registered a third-place finish. His 2013 race proved to be particularly frustrating for the former IndyCar and NASCAR star, when he overcame a transmission issue in the first stage of the Rally only to crash in stage four after slowly rolling over a large sand dune and damaging the car’s radiators which were mounted on the front of the vehicle. Despite winning two of the Rally’s final 10 stages and finishing top 5 in 10 of 14 stages, Gordon could not overcome the significant deficit he built for himself following his mechanical issues and finished 14th in the field of 153 cars.
“Racing is full of ‘what-ifs,’” Gordon said. “Like anything else in life you learn from your mistakes and move on to the next challenge. We learned a lot about ourselves over the last 10 stages last year and it gives our team tremendous confidence returning to Argentina.”
The 2014 Dakar Rally will wind its way through three countries. Starting in Argentina the race will take a short route through Bolivia before finishing on Jan. 18 in Valparaiso, Chile.
The Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), which sanctions the Dakar Rally as well other marquee events including the Tour De France, reports that more than one billion fans in 190 countries tuned into the 2013 edition of the race on television, making it the most watched motorsports event in the world – surpassing Formula 1, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 combined.
To follow Gordon and the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires team as they try to rise above the competition at the legendary Dakar Rally, log onto www.speedenergy.com and www.toyotires.com for race team updates.