Team Dakar USA Stage 3 Update: Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci Jacobacci, Argentina (January 5, 2009) -- Today marked the third day of the Dakar Rally and one of the most difficult specials of the 14-stage race. It included two 70 kilometer liaisons...
Team Dakar USA Stage 3 Update: Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci
Jacobacci, Argentina (January 5, 2009) -- Today marked the third day of the Dakar Rally and one of the most difficult specials of the 14-stage race. It included two 70 kilometer liaisons and a 551 kilometer special. As evidenced by the below illustration of today's special, there was a significant change in terrain throughout the day, making piloting abilities very important.
Unlike previous Dakar Rallies, the competitors are not allowed to stop during the liaison sections to add fuel to the race vehicles. With that said, the Team Dakar USA members were very apprehensive about their fuel mileage for today's special.
"With today being one of the longest specials of the Rally, we were definitely concerned about our fuel mileage. Luckily, we finished the stage with 15 gallons of fuel remaining, so we were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. We should be in good shape for the rest of the race when it comes to fuel mileage," commented Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 309 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer.
Despite good news relating to the team's fuel mileage, today's special did not produce the results that the Team Dakar USA members had hoped for. Gordon's Hummer suffered from two left rear broken wheels during the course of the 551 km stage, thought to be a consequence of the high speed sections of the stage where the Hummer traveled at speeds in excess of 120 mph. Unfortunately, the No. 324 Vanguard Hummer driven by Eric Vigouroux had issues early in the day when the power steering pump bracket broke.
The Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer was still able to finish the special in tenth place, only 13:35 minutes behind. The tenth place finish was good enough to move the No. 309 Hummer to ninth place overall, 34:32 minutes behind leader Carlos Sainz. The Vanguard Hummer has been repaired and is making its way to the finish line.
"It was very important to finish in the top-10 today. The first ten cars get to start the next day's special in two-minute increments, which is very good for our team. Today's terrain reminded me a lot of the landscape between Las Vegas and Reno. We started on hard-packed gravel roads before hitting the silt, which is best described as a terrain that looks like baby powder. We had to race about 60 miles through the silt. Being the tenth car was hard enough; I can't imagine what it is like for the competitors farther back. We need to continue finishing in the top-10 to preserve this starting position," Gordon commented on his finish today.
"I feel very good about being ninth overall in the Dakar Rally. We still have a long way to go, and I know that our team can make up some ground on the leaders. There is still a long way to go yet, and we are sure that other teams will encounter problems before the end of the race. I have been conservative on the first couple of stages, and we will show the world what Team Dakar USA is all about when the time is right," stated Gordon.