Race-Dezert.com recently sat down with Robby Gordon to talk about what’s in store for the 2013 Dakar Rally, as well as his plans for the future. Robby and his navigator Kellon Walch will tackle more than 8000 Km / 4970 Mi from Peru through Argentina and ending in Santiago, Chile in one of the most challenging off road events in the world January 5th – 20th 2013.
RDC: Do you think you are going to be competitive for the overall win in the 2013 Dakar Rally?
Robby: If you look at last year we won half of the specials. We had one mechanical that cost us a bunch of time. If you take that mechanical out of the equation there’s no reason we won’t compete for the overall.
RDC: You only have one vehicle this year, why is that? Could it be a disadvantage for this race?
Robby: Well if I am going to base it off of last year I think it will be an advantage because we would have personally won three or four more specials if I didn’t pull Nasser out of the mud or pulled him through finishes because he over-reved the engine and popped the alternator belt off of it. You know, if we didn’t help him for the first three days we would have won every special right in the beginning as well. I would like to run two cars, it’s good for business, but as far as the performance side of it I’m going to say last time was a total distraction.
RDC: With last years issues with the ASO do you feel there are any bad vibes with them going into this rally that could cause any issues?
Robby: I don’t foresee any issues, the ASO has been to our facility and we’ve had numerous conversations with them. Obviously last years last year… you know they can still say whatever they want but our stuff was approved prior to the rally starting. We shared our whole installation. The difference between this year and last year is this system doesn’t have a vacuum off the engine. It’s not a big deal. If you look at some of Peterhansel’s comments, and some of these other comments out there, the day we disconnected the system we beat them by 13-14 minutes, so I don’t see the inflation process going into the engine hurting our performance at all. We worked on our normal deflation system that deflates into the air and we’ve got that system working better than the vacuum deflation from last year so we feel we’ve learned from that. We’ve challenged ourselves and we’ve tested it at NORRA, we tested every problem we had. We had zero mechanical issues at the NORRA rally. We tested the parts in Baja, we tested on a sportsman buggy, we have been putting allot of miles on them.
RDC: Speaking of NORRA, do you see the NORRA Mexican 1000 as a similar style event to Dakar with the multiple day format?
Robby: Dakar is so much more difficult than anything we do. I just don’t think you can relate NORRA to it. NORRA was a lot of fun, the guys did a great job promoting the rally, nothing against them. With Dakar, in some sections they will just tell you to turn left and go off road into the bushes for fifty miles. The challenge is much more difficult. And I’m sure Mark McMillin or anyone else that’s done the rally would concur with that. And if you’re one of the first cars on the road you are making trail which makes it even harder.
RDC: What advice would you give to other Americans who want to race Dakar?
Robby: I welcome the challenge. The biggest thing is the logistics challenge to just be able to do it. People have been all over Race-Dezert.com talking about it and they have no idea what it takes to be honest with you. I hear people talking about how a Trophy Truck program at the Baja 1000 is equal to a Dakar, that makes me laugh. Because it would really be three seasons of Baja to equal the distance of one Dakar.
RDC: What is the toughest race in the world, Dakar or the Baja peninsula run?
Robby: The Baja peninsula run is a breeze. It is because you get to work on your car throughout the race. At Dakar you don’t get any pit support during the race. You’re on your own, there’s no pit area you come cruising into where the guys change your tires or give you another spare. You’ve got to cary enough equipment on the car to compete every day without support. So it would be like running the Baja 500 every day with no support, no pit stops, no support at all, and in the sand. You know, I think Damen Jeffries and Nasser are really going to get a wide awakening this year on what it really takes to do Dakar.
RDC: Can you explain the classes or categories that run the Dakar?
Robby: You race for the overall together, the only thing that really matters is the overall. We race against Peterhansel for the overall, we’re racing against Nasser even though it’s a 2wd. But there’s four categories; the motorcycles, quads, T1 is a production based car and there’s the unlimited class, like SCORE should be just one big unlimited class and then there is the big truck class. So there isn’t a bunch of different classes at this thing. I don’t see Dakar creating any new classes like they have in off-road desert racing. I think we have too many classes here in America. I think it should be simplified like the Dakar.
RDC: What are your long term plans for Dakar beyond this year?
Robby: (Robby laughs…) Well I would like to run an ad on your classifieds because you can buy my whole team. RDC: You can buy your whole team??? Robby: Yeah the team is available. RDC: So I’m guessing you will be focusing on Stadium Super Trucks in the future? Robby: Well we’ve obviously competed in the Dakar. And I think it’s time to shift our focus. We are in a position to win the Dakar, we need to capitalize on all the hard work we put in the last seven years. This will be eight years for me total, one year with VW and seven as a race team. And I think it’s time to look at other stuff.
I told Kevin to put one of the Hummers on Race-Dezert.com, so one can go up for sale now, and I would be willing to rent that same car as well. The rental for the car and the rally would be 1.5 million dollars, and the price of the car is one million dollars. If you want to buy the team, you can write a hefty check for five million bucks and you can take everything.
(See the classified ad here)
RDC: What do you think it would take to attract more international teams to race in America and Baja?
Robby: I honestly don’t know… I do know but I don’t want to tell you…. When we race for a few bucks we’re kidding ourselves right? Legitimize it. Television, prize money, notoriety, etc… Off-Road Racing is awesome and that’s what we’re trying to do with our stadium truck deal. Off-Road Racing in America is the best kept secret in motorsports. Our goal with SST is to give people an opportunity to learn about Off-Road.
As far as Stadium Super Trucks we are progressing forward rapidly. Chassis number fifteen is complete. We’ve pretty much got fifteen rollers around the facility here. Tickets are out for sale for the first few events. And we’re working hard on getting all the event tickets up by Christmas, and April 6th in Phoenix is going to be awesome.
We’ve not only been testing on off road tracks, but we’ve also been testing out some of our metal jump to asphalt stuff for Long Beach.
You keep hearing stuff like is this really going to happen… It’s on like donkey kong.
The Dakar Rally takes place January 5-20th 2013. Stay tuned to Race-Dezert.com for complete coverage of the event.