Robby Gordon and Team Dakar USA Final Test Session Next Step: Dakar HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 27, 2006) - With the world's most grueling off-road race 10 weeks away, Robby Gordon lead the 19-member Team Dakar USA team through one of its...
Robby Gordon and Team Dakar USA Final Test Session
Next Step: Dakar
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 27, 2006) - With the world's most grueling off-road race 10 weeks away, Robby Gordon lead the 19-member Team Dakar USA team through one of its final test sessions leading up to the Dakar Rally which begins Jan. 6 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The three-day test earlier this week in the desert of the Southwestern United States in Gordon's purpose-built Toyo Tires/HUMMER-sponsored H3, included navigator Andy Grider and provided all members, including those new to the program this year, what the Dakar experience may entail.
Battling similar terrain the team will encounter in the early stages of the 16-stage event through Portugal, Spain and Morocco, as well as the latter stages of Mauritania, Mali and Senegal, Gordon is confident in the team's ability and their chances of capturing the overall title.
"The mission of this test was to work out the kinks and make our preparations for the Rally," said Gordon, already a two-time Rally stage winner and the only American to do so. "We definitely could have been better prepared last year and we definitely didn't want to put ourselves in the same situation this time around.
"The test was structured as a mini-rally. We tried to cover as much terrain possible that would simulate the conditions that we may face in January and really put the H3 and the crew in some compromising situations, not unlike those that you can face in Africa on a daily basis. We intentionally put ourselves in some spots that we may face in the race so the guys could become familiar with each other as well as what they will have available to them during the race."
Gordon and crew will encounter some of the most difficult terrain and environmental conditions known to man on the more than 6,000-mile 17-day journey from Lisbon to Dakar. From torrential rain to blinding sandstorms, Dakar is a test of man as well as machine. Over the last 29 years, competitors from across the globe have made survival the No. 1 priority in the punishing race.
"Dakar is a perfect arena to show the strengths of the HUMMER," said Dwight Woodbridge, General Motor's Off-Road Program Manager. "If you think of one word to explain Dakar, it would be - extreme. Dakar is easily the most grueling automotive event and probably sporting event in the world. With 17 consecutive days of racing across some very difficult terrain in a very remote countryside and never under the same conditions, Dakar is undoubtedly a trial that GM and HUMMER are prepared for. This type of challenge is the perfect fit for the extreme nature of the HUMMER H3."
"The test was a great success," said the 37-year old Gordon, who will celebrate his 38th birthday while in Portugal. "Part of this was also to get the team together and to make sure they can work together under very difficult circumstances, and they proved without a doubt that they're up to the job."
With testing almost complete and Team Dakar USA set to take on the challenges that the Southern European and African continents have to offer, Gordon's participation in his third consecutive Dakar will bring the race to the forefront in the United States and Canada.
However, as its popularity grows in the United States, its mass appeal in Europe and Africa is already beyond compare. For 2007, more than 580 hours of programming is expected in more than 180 countries. The sanctioning body of the race, the ASO - which also promotes and organizes the famed Tour de France bicycle race - produces a daily 26-minute television show that is distributed via satellite.
While many will consider just finishing a victory, Gordon's goals are clearly stated: "Toyo Tires and HUMMER have made a commitment to compete against some of the best off-road programs in the world in Dakar and our sole focus is to help them complete that goal."