On Sunday, Jan. 5, the most extreme and demanding motorsports events in the world gets underway at the Dakar Rally in Rosario, Argentina. American Robby Gordon will be competing in his tenth Dakar Rally, along with 149 international competitors, in his quest to become the first American in history to win the event. The rally will wind its way through three countries, starting in Argentina, followed by a short route through Bolivia, before finishing on Jan. 18 in Valparaiso, Chile.
“I feel more prepared than in any of our previous trips to the Dakar Rally,” Gordon said. “Since our first race in 2005, where we accomplished our goal of becoming the first American to win a stage, our focus has been on winning the overall title. I believe with the experience we have, and the new car we have built, this year could be our time.”
Entering its 35th edition, Frenchmen have dominated the Rally, taking 19 overall victories. Finland has produced five race winners, Japan three, Germany two and one each from South Africa, Belgium, Qatar, Spain and Sweden. The Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), which sanctions the Dakar Rally as well other marquee events including the Tour De France, reports that more than one billion fans in 190 countries tuned into the 2013 edition of the race on television, making it the most watched motorsports event in the world – surpassing Formula 1, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 combined.
As one of the most innovative off-road vehicle builders in the world, Gordon is introducing a brand-new race car for his Dakar effort. The car, which was built at his shop in North Carolina, is the lightest and most technologically advanced machine he has ever built. It builds off of the same sort of designs that have propelled him to three Baja 1000 victories, four Baja 500 victories and seven Score-International Off-Road Championships in addition to his Dakar stage victories.
“Since our first trip to Dakar with our own car in 2006 (Gordon drove for Volkswagen in 2005), Toyo Tires has been there with me. In last year’s Rally we had no tire failures in the entire race – truly amazing. With that same kind of performance and the fact that we have had the fastest car for several years, we will just need to eliminate mistakes to try to capture the overall title in the world’s toughest race.”
Gordon’s top overall finish in the Dakar Rally came in 2009 when he registered a third-place finish. His 2013 race proved to be particularly frustrating for the former IndyCar and NASCAR star, when he overcame a transmission issue in the first stage of the Rally only to crash in stage four after slowly rolling over a large sand dune and damaging the car’s radiators which were mounted on the front of the vehicle. Despite winning two of the Rally’s final 10 stages and finishing top 5 in 10 of 14 stages, Gordon could not overcome the significant deficit he built for himself following his mechanical issues and finished 14th in the field of 153 cars.
“Racing is full of ‘what-ifs,’” Gordon said. “Like anything else in life you learn from your mistakes and move on to the next challenge. We learned a lot about ourselves over the last 10 stages last year and it gives our team tremendous confidence returning to Argentina.”
Daily highlights from each stage can be viewed on the NBC Sports Network (DIRECTV Channel 220 / Dish Network Channel 159 / AT&T U-Verse Channel 1640 / Verizon FiOS Channel 590) from Jan. 5th-18th. Please check your local listings for times & schedules.
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