Dakar: Team USA stage one report

ROBBY GORDON JUMP STARTS HUMMER INTO TOP 15 ON FIRST DAY OF DAKAR RALLY In what can only be considered a remarkable start to the world's longest and most difficult motorsports event, Robby Gordon and his new "Dakar" Hummer H3 defied the odds of...

ROBBY GORDON JUMP STARTS HUMMER INTO TOP 15 ON FIRST DAY OF DAKAR RALLY

In what can only be considered a remarkable start to the world's longest and most difficult motorsports event, Robby Gordon and his new "Dakar" Hummer H3 defied the odds of position, weather and terrain to move from 35th to 14th in the opening round of the famed Dakar Rally.

Starting in Lisbon, Portugal the first leg of the grueling event was broken into three distinct stages with the fast, important, timed Special Stage of the 51.5 miles set in the middle of two liaison stages that were run on the major highway between Lisbon and the resort town of Portimao on the southern coast of Portugal. Gordon wowed the Lisbon starting line crowd with an unconventional move on the raised starting platform, where the drivers are introduced to the public. This allows an even 2 minute spacing between the racers in Gordon's competition group. After taking the applause from the appreciative Portuguese fans, Gordon backed down the starting ramp and came over the top with his wheels in the air!

With the rolling green Portuguese country-side severely soaked from several days of rain, four-wheel drive German and Japanese marques were expected to have a huge advantage over Gordon's heavier new all-American Hummer H3 which was forced to start in a poor 35th position behind some of the world's greatest rally and North African desert specialists. Few European Dakar fans gave the popular American much chance of gaining on the established stars in this first day, as the competition was piloting the powerful VW and Mitsubishi teams using four-wheel drive. But, as always, Gordon stunned the consensus with a brilliant start and then settled into a calm and steady drive that saw his time of 1 hour and 59 seconds end up only 4 minutes and 39 seconds behind the stage's top finishing Carlos Sainz, the retired WRC champion from Spain. Sainz, who was driving for VW, was almost beaten by the popular Portuguese driver, Carlos Souza, in a Nissan who finished just 1 minute and 30 seconds behind the Spaniard.

By the time Gordon reached the most difficult sections of the special stage the mostly single lane dirt roads had been so badly chewed that the Hummer was often running in deep to sloppy mud. Gordon credited most of the day's success to his absolutely stock, production, Toyo tires which enabled him to overcome the poor conditions. "Today's run was good", said a calm and focused Gordon at the race's impound area near the finish line. By the rules, hardly any time was given by the race officials for repairs before the cars were locked up for the night, so Gordon's crew used the remaining minutes to wipe off the mud and clean the windshield in preparation for tomorrow's expected, even-wetter second stage, which will end in Malaga, Spain, where all the cars will be loaded on ferries and shipped across the Mediterranean Sea to Nador on the northern coast of Africa. "The Hummer ran perfectly so we can run tomorrow morning's second stage with no time subtracted to work on the car before we really get moving. If all goes well I think we'll be in the top 10 by the time we reach the end of the third stage in Morocco and that's just where I want to be for the long hauls across the desert."

Gordon's "Dakar" Hummer H3 was specially designed and built by Gordon and his team of ace mechanics in his Anaheim, CA race shop with the specific intention of winning the Dakar. "We've received tremendous support from Hummer, Jim Beam and Toyo tires to make this happen and I believe we're going to surprise a lot of our European fans with this car's performance. Most Dakar competitors and race fans have never seen anything like this Hummer", said Gordon, "as they tend to concentrate on smaller, high-revving engines, which I don't believe have as good of a chance of success in North Africa's huge sand dunes as my V8-engined Hummer."

-teamdakarusa.com

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Carlos Sainz , Carlos Sousa , Jim Beam