Team HUMMER: The Official Start of the Dakar Rally
Cordoba, Argentina (January 2, 2011) -- Today marked the official start of the 2011 Dakar Rally. From this point forward, it is serious business for the competitors vying for the coveted Dakar title. Stage 1, the first of 13 timed stages in this year's rally race, included a 566-km road section and a 222-km special that began in Victoria and ended in Cordoba.
Heavy rain created an unforeseen obstacle for Team HUMMER. According to the TV choppers flying over the route, the participants in the car category suffered from skidding and sliding. Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 303 SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires HUMMER, started today's special in fourth place. He was scored 9th as he crossed the CP1 marker located at km 137 together while last year's winner, Carlos Sainz, led the field.
Disadvantaged by the slippery race conditions, Gordon finished 11 minutes, 4 seconds behind Carlos Sainz in the first stage of the Rally with a total time of 2 hours, 29 minutes and 36 seconds. This time puts Gordon eighth overall heading into tomorrow's stage from Cordoba to San Miguel de Tucuman, which will be a 324-km race through the mountains.
"We started today's special in fourth place, and unfortunately we finished eighth. We knew that the HUMMER team would not be as strong as we would like in the Argentina portion of this race, but we struggled a little bit more today than I would have liked due to the weather conditions and technical rally-style section. Sainz and Peterhansel led today's stage, but they also started the race before the weather began and were virtually unaffected by it. That's why you see the gap in time from the rest of the competitors," commented Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 303 SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires HUMMER.
"We started out the special good, but we had a couple of challenges along the way. Kellon [Walch] and I had to change helmets during the middle of the stage because his microphone quit working. I ran off the road at one point. We also ran out of windshield wiper fluid due to the mud. These mistakes probably cost us about 1 minute of total speed. I expected to give up 5 minutes in today's stage not 11 minutes, which disappoints me. It is still early in the race, but we have some ground to make up tomorrow. Some of the guys are already starting to have issues this early. Hopefully, we will recover quickly from today's issues before we enter Chile because it is our best opportunity to make up time. By this point, I want to be less than 10 minutes behind," furthered Gordon.
"Tomorrow's stage is supposed to go through the mountains, which are not good for us for two reasons. First, the HUMMERs are not turbo-charged then the course is a little narrow. They did say that we should encounter some bumps, which could be good for us."
Eliseo Salazar, driver of the No. 327 SPEED Energy / Cristal CERO HUMMER finished today's stage 28th, 34 minutes, 25 seconds behind.
-source: team hummer