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The Dakar Rally is truly an international spectacle. Drivers, riders, cars, quads, trucks, bikes and their race teams converge on Buenos Aires from around the globe after year-around preparation. This year, the 36th running of the The Dakar Rally began on January 4th. The 13 stage course ran through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, covering a total distance of 9000 km. The Dakar Rally could possibly be the most grueling and dangerous two weeks of any competitors life.

The Dakar Rally is the world’s biggest stage in off-road racing. The biggest players in the business come to the Dakar to make a show of it. Global giants such as Peugeot and Mini spend fortunes to showcase their engineering during these two weeks in January. For any team to compete at the very top and challenge the monstrous budgets of teams like Peugeot and Mini is a monumental feat. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Robby Gordon and Team SPEED once again returned to Buenos Aires to take on the giants. Learning from previous Dakar races as well as a rigorous testing schedule, Robby and his Gordini were keenly prepared to meet this year’s challenge. Unlike many of the drivers who pay to race a finished car backed up by a factory team, Robby takes the vigorous role of vehicle designer, lead crew chief, team manager and driver all in one. While other drivers might rest in comfort at resort hotels near the daily bivouac, Robby spends the nights between each stage with his team preparing for every aspect of the next day’s challenge. With a program that runs on a fraction of the top teams’ budgets, there is not a stage at which Robby is not a viable threat.

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Robby, along with co-pilot Johnny Campbell, got off to an auspicious start in Stage 1 out of Buenos Aires. Robby and Johnny were third across the finish line after the 175 km leg. They got bumped up to 2nd place after Nasser Al-Attiya was penalized. Unfortunately, the good luck was short lived. Mechanical problems in Stage 2 cost Team SPEED 4 hours, pushing Robby and Johnny back to 50th place after the 518 km leg. In Stage 3, Robby once again showed his true grit. After starting in 50th, he managed to claw his way back to 15th place in 3:19:24. Entering Chile, Robby and Johnny hit their stride in Stages 4-7 with three consecutive top 10 finishes and also managed a 3rd place podium spot in Stage 5.

Unfortunately, problems found the Gordini once again in the grueling 805 km Stage 8. After oil pressure issues, the Gordini finished 43rd. Robby regained form for a 9th place finish in Stage 9, crossing the finish line only 35:69 after stage winner Nani Roma. Robby was consistent through the later stages.

In true Gordon fashion, Robby saved the fireworks for the end with a Stage 13 win. Robby earned his 10th career Dakar Stage victory in the final stage of the race. Gordon’s overall Dakar Rally time of 48:20:05 earned Team SPEED a 19th place overall. Living up to it’s brutal reputation, only 67 of the original 137 cars survived to finish the Dakar Rally.

The Gordini + The Albins ST6-i. Robby’s ability to compete at the highest levels, against the biggest teams and drivers in the world is no fluke. In addition to his driving duties, Robby is involved in every aspect of his Dakar campaign from vehicle design to his race program. One of the key components in Robby’s arsenal is the Albins ST6-i gearbox. The Albins ST6-i is a six-speed inline sequential gearbox that features a standard set of heavy duty drop gears which allow for quick, efficient ratio changes. ST6 gears are profile-ground, shot peened and isotropic polished for durability and longer gear life. Built-in inspection ports make routine inspection easy without dis-assembly which is crucial for maintenance on the road. The ST6-i also features a standard internal oil pump that helps keep temperatures under control under the most extreme conditions.

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