Team Dakar USA Stage 8 Update: Valaparaiso to La Serena La Serena, Chile (January 11, 2009) -- After yesterday's rest day, the Dakar Rally competition resumed today in a 294-km race from Valaparaiso to La Serena. Before today's stage, there were...
Team Dakar USA Stage 8 Update: Valaparaiso to La Serena
La Serena, Chile (January 11, 2009) -- After yesterday's rest day, the Dakar Rally competition resumed today in a 294-km race from Valaparaiso to La Serena. Before today's stage, there were a total of 337 teams still battling for the 31st annual Dakar Rally title and included 156 bikes and quads, 116 cars and 65 trucks.
The Dakar Rally is known as one of the toughest races in the world. The terrain and race conditions are extremely rough on the race vehicles, assistance vehicles, and crew members. With that said, Team Dakar USA spent the rest day mentally preparing for the remainder of the race while also prepping both Hummers for the final days of the Rally. This maintenance went a step farther than the normal nightly preparation done by the crew and included major service on both race vehicles.
The No. 309 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer was third to start today's stage. Early in the race, Robby Gordon got stuck against a rock when crossing a dried river bed. Even though he was able to get going after a few minutes, he still lost valuable time to the leaders. The day continued to get worse for Gordon and navigator Andy Grider when they broke a set of headers, causing two spark plug wires to burn. Fortunately, the pair finished the day in the eighth position, 23:40 minutes behind stage winner and class leader, Carlos Sainz. The No. 309 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer is still fifth in the overall standings, trailing by 1 hour, 32 minutes.
The No. 324 Vanguard Hummer started seventh. Like Gordon, Eric Vigouroux also experienced problems early in the stage when he lost a transmission. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only problem that the No. 324 faced. Shortly after losing the transmission, the Vanguard Hummer rolled, resulting in significant cosmetic damage.
"Well, I am upset with today's occurrences. After a thorough service on both race vehicles yesterday, I really thought that Team Dakar USA would have had a better day. But, the terrain was not very good today for the Hummers. It was very similar to a WRC course with many turns and gravel roads, which was not ideal for the Hummers. The time that we lost today was very costly for our team, but we will go to work tonight replacing the headers on the Monster Energy Hummer and repairing the damage on the Vanguard Hummer. I expect Team Dakar USA to rebound from today and have a good showing the next couple days. If we can do that and the leaders experience problems, we still have a shot to win the Dakar Rally. I also think that the No. 324 can finish inside the top-20," commented Robby Gordon on today's special.
Tomorrow's route is a 449-km drive from La Serena to Capiapo. Tune into the Versus (VS) network and robbygordon.com for daily Dakar Rally highlights.