Team Dakar USA Stage 12 Update: Fiambala to La Rioja La Rioja, Argentina (January 15, 2009) -- The fight for the 31st Dakar Rally title took an unexpected turn of events today after the stage was abbreviated by about 30 km due to archeological...
Team Dakar USA Stage 12 Update: Fiambala to La Rioja
La Rioja, Argentina (January 15, 2009) -- The fight for the 31st Dakar Rally title took an unexpected turn of events today after the stage was abbreviated by about 30 km due to archeological discoveries in the Fiambala region. Carlos Sainz, overall leader in the car class and winner of six stages, was forced to withdraw from the grueling race after suffering an untimely wreck that injured his co-driver around kilometer 79. Nani Roma, who held the fourth overall position when today's stage commenced, halted his No. 304 entry around kilometer 165 and is believed to be experiencing mechanical problems.
On today's 213-km race through the challenging Fiambala region, the No. 309 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer finished third, 25:27 minutes behind Giniel De Villiers, who took the stage win and the overall lead. Due to today's unfortunate events for the frontrunners, Robby Gordon moves to third overall in the Dakar Rally standings. Currently, he is trailing by 1 hour, 18 minutes. The No. 324 Vanguard Hummer started today's stage from ninth and concluded it in the 12th-position, 2 hours and 22 minutes behind De Villiers.
"I know that I keep saying this every day, but it was another good day for Team Dakar USA despite getting stuck late in the stage. We got trapped on top of a bed of rocks, which burnt the clutch. As a result, we were only able to drive the Monster Energy Hummer in first gear to the finish, which was about 80 km away. I bet that we lost about 45 minutes easy, but the leaders only beat us by 25. All in all, we got another solid third place finish. I think that is the fourth time this year that we finished third. We are right where we want to be going into the last days of the Rally, so I would not count out Team Dakar USA just yet. Until Carlos Sainz rolled his race vehicle in a ravine today, he had run a flawless race and everyone would have thought that he had it locked up. It is the Dakar Rally and anything can happen," commented Robby Gordon, driver of the No. 309 Monster Energy Toyo Tires Hummer.
"We have been steadily and quietly moving our way up the leader board," commented Eric Vigouroux, driver of the No. 324 Vanguard Hummer. "We finished today's stage 12th. I am proud of what Alex and I have been able to accomplish thus far in the Dakar Rally in the No. 324 Vanguard Hummer. I hadn't had much seat time in the Hummer before the race started, so I am surpassing my expectations. Team Dakar USA is an impressive operation, and I am proud to be part of it," concluded Vigouroux.
Stage 13 from La Rioja to Cordoba is scheduled to be a 545-km test of the competitor's physical abilities and navigational skills. Tune into robbygordon.com and the Versus (VS) network for daily Dakar highlights. Also, visit www.toyo.com for Ramses' Dakar Rally journal.