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TERMAS DE RIO HONDO, Argentina (Jan. 15, 2015)
– Robby Gordon and navigator Johnny Campbell took a wild ride in Stage 11 of the 37th Dakar Rally, but still finished 13th in the stage and moved inside the top 20 of the overall standings with just two stages remaining in the world’s most difficult automobile race.

“We crashed into an embankment and spun the car completely around in the air,” said Campbell. “Fortunately we landed backward on all four tires. Robby restarted the car and took off. It could have been bad crashing at about 100 mph and still scrubbing speed when we hit.”

With mud and other debris hitting Gordon’s windshield, Campbell said after the accident the Gordini’s windshield wipers stopped working, making visibility very difficult.

Despite the problem, the stage time of 1 hour, 56 minutes and 21 seconds was only 3 minutes and 11 seconds behind stage winner and overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar. Orlando Terranova of Argentina finished second 27 seconds behind and Giniel De Villiers of South Africa crossed the line just 39 seconds off of Al-Attiyah’s pace.

Al-Attiyah now leads De Villiers by a commanding 29 minutes, 1 second in the overall standings, with Poland’s Krzysztof Holowczyc in third 1 hour, 28 minutes and 49 seconds behind. One of Al-Attiyah’s closest pursuers, Dakar-rookie Yazeed Alrajhi of Saudi Arabia, withdrew from the race Thursday with mechanical issues in his Toyota just as the stage began.

Gordon is now in 19th-place overall, scored 7 hours, 44 minutes and 36 seconds behind the leader.

Friday the cars will race from Termas de Rio Hondo to Rosario. The stage will start with an exceptionally long liaison, which despite the slower speeds, will still put additional stress on the already strained race engines and drivers. The 726-kilometer liaison (451 miles) will be followed by another short 298-kilometer (185 miles) timed race. Like Thursday’s stage, the course will be lined with trees and vegetation, therefore, despite Al-Attiyah’s big lead, anything can happen en route back to Buenos Aires.

Saturday’s final stage will be the shortest of the 13 stages taking place over the 9,111 kilometers (5,661 miles). It clocks in at just 393 kilometers, of which only 174 will be timed, and brings every competitor still running back to a massive celebration in Argentina’s capital city.

Follow the Dakar Rally through live timing and scoring as well as live updates at planetrobby.com. NBCSN will provide daily highlights beginning Jan. 5., check local listings for exact channel and time in your area.

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