Calama, Chile – The Dakar Rally entered Chile Monday, the second different country in which the cars would compete during the 35th Dakar Rally. Over the course of his 10 years competing in the Dakar Rally, Stage 8 marked Robby Gordon’s 100th Dakar Stage , and this experience clearly helped the American navigate the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini along the narrow and fast course over the Andes Cordillera on its route to Calama.
Starting in the 56th position after a wheel problem in Stage 7, Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch knew dust and slower traffic would be an issue as they attempted to move the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini towards the front. Through all of the misfortune of the 2014 Dakar Rally Team SPEED still remains optimistic to make the HST Gordini the fastest car on course by learning and making changes each day.
The SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires driver navigated the course perfectly passing car after car and finishing the tricky course in the 10th position with an adjusted time of only 15 minutes 54 seconds behind Stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah. Gordon’s top-10 finish comes at a time in the Rally where driver skill shows up in the dunes and fast portions of the race course. Team SPEED may be down multiple hours but it will be a force to reckon with the remaining five stages.
Tuesday’s Stage 9 will start with a very short 29-kilometer liaison leading to a 422-kilometer Special bringing competitors to the city of Iquique. Reaching the most northern point of the Rally, Team SPEED will view the ocean for the very first time in the Rally, as Gordon and Walch look to make up valuable time tackling the Atacama Dunes where the HST Gordini is expected to excel. With a 30 percent difference in elevation from start to finish of the stage will mean any sort of mechanical issue will eliminate any chance of gaining ground in the overall standings.
Be sure to watch the nightly highlight show of the 2014 Dakar Rally January 6th through January 18th on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. EST/ 2 p.m. PST. Check local listings for exact channel and time.
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/dakar for race team updates.
Photo by Weyens Dakarworld