Nasser Al-Attiyah bounces back to win Stage; Gordon overall in 2nd place San Rafael (January 2, 2012) - Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally was successful for Team SPEED; Nasser Al-Attiyah came from a 38th-starting position to win the stage on corrected time while teammate Robby Gordon finished third. Gordon now sits second overall in the rankings. It is the first time that Team SPEED had two HUMMERs on the podium for a Special Stage finish, making it a historic day.
Competitors started early this morning, taking them from Santa Rosa de la Pampa to San Rafael, for the 487 km liasion and 290 km Special Stage. The terrain presented during the stage proved to be very suitable for the HUMMERs. The big, fast bends on firm gravel roads allowed Gordon and Al-Attiyah to quickly maneuver their way to the front.
Robby Gordon in his No. 303 SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HUMMER started out strong being the fifth car off the start line and headed straight for the lead. In a few kilometers, he set a good pace and passed Peterhansel for the lead. After the first way point at KM110, he maintained a 9 second lead.
Nasser Al-Attiyah started out 38th, but quickly picked off the other competitors one by one. By the first way point, he was already up to 12th position. By KM180 of 290, he was only 2 minutes and 40 seconds behind the leader, putting him in sixth place and in a position for a strong finish.
Unfortunately, Gordon slipped to fifth place due to a tire puncture. After a fast wheel change at way point 3, he was only 3 minutes and 34 seconds behind the leader, Peterhansel. Once he passed the 231km way point, he had lost some even more time, falling back to the sixth position. Despite this, the ever-impressive Gordon used the last 50km to put him in a close race with the eventual runner-up, Peterhansel. The race was so close that it was thought that either Gordon or Peterhansel won the stage based on corrected time. In the end, Al-Attiyah would become the victor, which was very good given the troubles that he had during Stage 1 of the Dakar Rally. Gordon would finish third, putting him second in the overall rankings only 2 minutes and 28 seconds being overall leader, Peterhansel.
"The stage was very good for us, but it sure was not easy. The last part of the stage was very difficult. We lost a lot of time in beginning trying to pass slower cars since we started 38th, but we able to regain it when there was no dust as well as the sand dunes. We don't want to show all of our cards just yet. Tomorrow will be good stage for me as I will open the road, and I will help Robby have a good timed stage because it will be difficult for other cars to pass us once we start running one and two," Nasser Al-Attiyah commented after his 14th stage victory in the Dakar, his 1st in a 2WD car. "Day 2 was a big day for us; Nasser finished first after starting 38th, which was very impressive. I'm being really conservative trying to make it to the end; rally racing is difficult and patience is key. Being second overall now is sort of what I thought would happened. We have a great team and great equipment, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be. My main concern right now is to stay in the front of the pack like we've been doing and make it to half way. Once we get to half way, tighten the seat belts because it's on," Gordon said after posting a third place finish in Stage 2.