Despite earlier issues in the Rally with fuel vapor locking on the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini, the issue that put Gordon and his team out of the 35th Dakar Rally was a compromised air filtration system.
Robby Gordon and the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires Gordini began Thursday’s 11th stage of the 2014 Dakar Rally with the same tenacity and determination that they start any race. The day’s goal was to capture the team’s first stage victory of Gordon’s 10th attempt at Dakar glory.
Just 18 kilometers into the stage, however, Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch noticed a severe fuel contamination issue and returned to Antofagasta, Chile where the stage began. Once there, the team went to work for more than 10 hours to diagnose and repair the damage the fuel created.
As the 36th Annual Dakar Rally continued into Chile Wednesday, Stage 10 brought competitors on a two part special from Iquique to Antofagasta. Tagged as one of the longest specials of this year comprising of a 58-kilometer liaison to a two-part 631-kilometer special encompassed with many challenging features along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The American duo of Robby Gordon and co-driver Kellon Walch would navigate their SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini through the dunes for 200-kilometers, before taking on the extremely difficult sections of fesh-fesh to close the stage.
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.
Salta, Argentina – Following a much needed rest day for teams, Sunday’s Stage 7 of the 35th Dakar Rally consisted of a mega loop with a 500-kilometer Special leading from Salta back to Salta. Drivers faced a course similar to what would be seen during a WRC race with stony terrain and multiple ultra-fast sections, an advantage that the 4WD race cars would have over the two-wheel-drive SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini.
As with much of the 2014 Rally, Stage 7 was a tough one for Robby Gordon and his SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team. Gordon started the stage far down the list, making his objective to stayi out of trouble and bring the HST Gordini to the finish line in one piece. Beginning 23rd off the line the SPEED Energy team knew the tight and narrow WRC-type track would be a challenge to pass other competitors.
Salta, Argentina (January 10, 2014) – Coming off Thursday’s Stage 5 – one that Robby Gordon described as the most difficult he had faced in nine previous years of the Dakar Rally, Stage 6 did not get any easier for Gordon and his SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team.
After finishing in a podium position the first time in 2014 after Stage 5, Team SPEED would receive news of a one-hour penalty that was applied following Stage 5 for missing a waypoint, thus forcing Gordon to forgo the third starting position for Friday’s Stage 6.
Tucuman, Argentina – The never-give-up attitude of American’s Robby Gordon and Co-Driver Kellon Walch, along with the entire SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team, was rewarded today with a near flawless Stage. It resulted in the first podium finish of the 2014 Dakar Rally and a hard-fought third- place finish, 20 minutes and 12 seconds behind Stage-winner Nani Roma of Spain.
The Rally continued in Argentina Thursday, taking competitors from Chilecito to Tucumán. The originally scheduled 527-kilometer Special was shortened to 428 kilometers due to safety concerns. Gordon would use the shorted Stage to his advantage remaining in the third position through the finish at kilometer 428 giving the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team something to be proud of entering Stage 6.
Chilecito, Argentina (January 8, 2014) – After one of the longest stages of the 2014 Dakar Rally, SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires driver Robby Gordon finished the fourth Stage with a solid fourteenth-place for the HST Gordini.
Competitors started the Stage on a 211-kilometer liaison, which led to a grueling 657-kilometer Special through the mountains and countryside of Argentina. To the benefit of competitors a neutral zone was designated in the middle portion of the Stage for cars to be serviced before finishing the final kilometers. Sitting in a comfortable sixth place just 9 minutes and 32 seconds back entering the neutral zone, Gordon and co-driver Kellon Walch knew they would need to finish the special without any problems to have a shot at capturing the team’s first top-five of 2014.
San Juan, Argentina – American’s Robby Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch rebounded following two frustrating stages at the 35 Dakar Rally to finish 6th in the third stage of the famed race. The team’s SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires HST Gordini finally performed as expected and allowed the duo to finish just seven minutes and two seconds behind stage winner Nani Roma of Spain.
Despite beginning the stage as the 28 of 121 cars, thus having to drive through fellow competitor’s dust and significant traffic, Gordon passed more than 20 cars during his more than three-hour and five-minute race. In doing so he shaved more than 21 minutes off of Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel’s overall leading time.
San Rafael, Argentina – After a miserable opening day to the 35th Dakar Rally, Robby Gordon and the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires team were optimistic about the second of 15 stages in the famed race and were prepared to take advantage of their 17th starting position. Unfortunately, it was another day of dismay for Gordon and his HST Gordini as it rolled back into the bivouac with a tow from a fellow competitor.