HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 30, 2006) -- While the elite of NASCAR will take January to rest in preparation for the upcoming 2007 season, set to begin a month later, one of racing's most versatile drivers, Robby Gordon, will be preparing to compete...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 30, 2006) -- While the elite of NASCAR will take January to rest in preparation for the upcoming 2007 season, set to begin a month later, one of racing's most versatile drivers, Robby Gordon, will be preparing to compete once again in the Dakar Rally, what some consider a mental and physical challenge above all others.
For close to 30 years, adventurers from every corner of the globe have been making the journey to Lisbon, Portugal to take on the challenge of the world's most grueling race. Beginning on the 6th of January 2007, competitors will spend the next 17 days battling environment and terrain to make the trek south from Lisbon towards the African continent and then to Dakar, Senegal where the 6,000-mile odyssey will end.
Gordon, well respected among his peers as an athlete that can and will take on any challenge set before him, will make his third appearance in the Dakar Rally in as many years. A two-time Dakar stage winner and the only American to do so, Gordon has been competing in off-road endurance races since the early 1980's. A two-time winner of the esteemed Baja 1000 along with countless other victories within North American borders, Gordon will attempt to be the first American to get the overall win in the race's history.
Gordon will once again pilot his own vehicle in the 16-stage event operating under the banner of Team Dakar USA. During last year's Dakar Rally, Gordon was forced to make an early exit from competition when an encounter with the devilish terrain during the seventh stage punctured the radiator and sidelined the team for the remainder of the Rally.
Dakar presents new challenges, far beyond those of just the driver and the car, but a test of man. The race is run on everything from paved roads to sand to terrain covered in jagged rocks. Competitors leave behind all the comforts of home and make the African wilderness their home during the 17-day event. Each stage is a journey in itself.
"Dakar is something that I have always followed and wanted to try, and fortunately thanks to the folks at HUMMER, Toyo Tires and all the others that have come along to help get this endeavor under way, I can go out there and compete," said the 37-year-old driver from Orange, Calif. who will celebrate his 38th birthday on Jan. 2, just days before departing from Lisbon.
"I had a better idea last year of what the race would be like, but the logistical challenges were still enormous, not just for us but for all competitors."
Each of the support vehicles, each with a specific purpose to help Gordon in his quest, will also participate and compete in the Dakar Rally.
"I drove for Volkswagen two years ago and they had been running the Dakar for so long that they had it down to a science. Last year was our first attempt to make it on our own and we were competitive until the camel grass punctured our radiator and were not able to clear the stage in enough time to continue.
"We'll come back this year with more test miles on the truck and all that knowledge gained from last year, and hopefully able to secure our goal of winning overall."
Gordon's participation in the last two Dakar events has brought 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: "I will be disappointed with anything other than a win. Our people give so much and our sole focus is to become the first American's to win Dakar."