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.
After several frustrating days where mechanical issues derailed Robby Gordon’s bid for an overall Dakar Rally win, the American driver ran a great fifth stage in his Traxxas/Toyo Tires Gordini to finish third, vastly improving his starting position for Friday’s sixth stage.
VILLAS CARLOS PAZ, Argentina – Robby Gordon got off to a fast start in the 37th Dakar Rally Sunday bringing his HST Gordini home in second place just 42 seconds behind overall leader Orlando Terranova of Argentina. Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah’s had finished ahead of Terranova and Gordon, but was assessed a unspecified two-minute penalty by race officials late Sunday afternoon.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – A massive announced crowd of 800,000 enthusiastic fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite drivers and riders stood outside Saturday’s mandatory race briefing and opening ceremony for the 37th Dakar Rally. Many of the drivers and riders were Argentinian and others were multi-time Dakar champions, but none came close to hearing the reception from the crowd that Robby Gordon did.
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.
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.
Copiapo, Chile – Today’s stage went extremely well for the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires / MAPEI HUMMER until the last checkpoint where Robby Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch would find themselves stuck, losing precious minutes from their lead.
Gordon led the charge to start Stage 12 heading back into the country of Chile. The Rally started at 6 AM local time to cross over the Andes making it an exceptionally long liaison to the start of the 319KM Special. The competitors would race into the dunes of the Atacama desert, a place that Gordon has won multiple stages in the past.
Cordoba, Argentina – Following a much needed rest day for teams, today’s stage from Tucumán to Córdoba was one of the toughest and longest of this year’s Dakar Rally. Drivers faced a course similar to what would be seen during a WRC race, an advantage that the 4WD race cars had over the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires / MAPEI HUMMER.
When the reviewed results came in for Stage 8, Gordon was scored third. Thus, he started third in today’s stage, which was helpful to keep pace with the leaders during the 593KM Special. Gordon lost a few minutes by KM100 and was down nearly 8 minutes to the leader near by the second half of the stage. Not letting the leaders stray too far, Gordon stayed in the top-5 for much of the Special bringing the HUMMER home with a solid fourth place finish, 8 minutes and 37 seconds behind.
Arequipa, Peru – After finishing yesterday’s stage in second, Gordon and the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires / MAPEI team were optimistic about today’s stage and prepared to take advantage of a good starting position. Unfortunately, it was a day of dismay for the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires / MAPEI HUMMER as it rolled into the bivouac bruised and beaten after stage 4.
The race drastically would change for Gordon and Team SPEED near KM35 when the HUMMER crashed into a dune, ultimately landing on its roof. With a broken windshield, front clip and two busted radiators, it took Gordon and Walch valuable hours to get the HUMMER back on four wheels and headed to the finish.
CYPRESS, CALIFORNIA – Robby Gordon has proven once again why he is a true motorsports champion, not just by winning, but dominating Stage 12 of the Dakar™. After a long delay set him back during Stage 11 due to mechanical problems, the American driver attacked Stage 12 with a vengeance. He piloted his #303 SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires HUMMER from a 22nd starting position to first overall – beating the second place finisher by 15 minutes, 18 seconds! To further prove a point, he accomplished that feat by crossing the perilously soft coastal dunes toward Nazca, Peru — streaking past stuck competitors with his two-wheel drive HUMMER equipped with Toyo® Open Country M/T®-R tires.
The 245km Stage 12 travelled north along the Peruvian coast from Arequipa to Nazca. This marks Gordon’s second stage win in the 2012 Dakar, having also won Stage 9. Gordon now has six podium finishes in the 2012 version of this Pan American marathon rally. It also shows his determination to finish on the podium in Lima, Peru.
Gordon’s teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah was forced to retire during Stage 9 due to mechanical problems. Prior to his retirement, Al-Attiyah and his Toyo Tires equipped #300 Qatar HUMMER won Stages 2 and 7, and finished third in Stage 3. So far in the 2012 Dakar, Toyo Tires has logged four stage wins and captured a total of nine podium finishes.