Salta, Argentina (January 12, 2014) – Following a much needed rest day for teams, Sunday’s Stage 7 of the 35th Dakar Rally consisted of a mega loop with a 500-kilometer Special leading from Salta back to Salta. Drivers faced a course similar to what would be seen during a WRC race with stony terrain and multiple ultra-fast sections, an advantage that the 4WD race cars would have over the two-wheel-drive SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini.
As with much of the 2014 Rally, Stage 7 was a tough one for Robby Gordon and his SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team. Gordon started the stage far down the list, making his objective to stayi out of trouble and bring the HST Gordini to the finish line in one piece. Beginning 23rd off the line the SPEED Energy team knew the tight and narrow WRC-type track would be a challenge to pass other competitors.
By kilometer 230 Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch had worked past 12 cars just 11 minutes and 10 seconds behind the leader. Unfortunately, as Gordon approached kilometer 281 things would suddenly go wrong for the American team as they came to a halt on the side of the racecourse with broken wheel studs. The HST Gordini would ultimately limp its way to the finish losing valuable time to the leaders. Gordon would eventually finish the stage 1 hour and 59 minutes behind stage winner Spaniard Carlos Sainz.
As the Rally comes down to the last six days, more and more competitors are dropping out. Gordon and Team SPEED look to make a jump in the overall standings every day hoping to reach the top 10. Tomorrow’s Stage 8 will enter Chile for the first time with a 510-kilometer liaison leading into a 302-kilometer Special as the competitors cross the Andes Cordillera. Being that it is so far into the Rally, Team SPEED will be testing various things over the final Stages trying to improve the HST Gordini as much as possible under race conditions.
Be sure to watch the nightly highlight show of the 2014 Dakar Rally January 6th through January 18th on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. EST/ 2 p.m. PST. Check local listings for exact channel and time.
The HST Gordini is supported by SPEED Energy, Toyo Tires, Traxxas, 4 Wheel Parts, Grand Design Recreational Vehicles, Magnaflow Exhaust, Eibach Springs, King Shocks, Mastercraft Safety, Embee Performance, MAC Tools, DeWALT, Freightliner Trucks, Replay XD, Impact Racing, Lincoln Welders, Ron Davis Racing Products, Techni Waterjet, Hella, Mechanix Wear, Saftey-Kleen, Weddle Industries, Kartek Off-Road, Team Gordon Race Wheels, Pro Am Racing Products, Anaheim Hills Auto Body.
Photos by Weyens Dakarworld
About SPEED Energy – SPEED Energy is available in four flavors: Unleaded, Fuel, Ethanol and Octane, which provides the human machine with the fuel it needs to keep up with the SPEED of life. Each drink contains a potent energy blend of B-vitamins, caffeine, taurine and ginseng. SPEED is packaged in 16 ounce cans that have a stylish black top and sexy body and are available in singles, four-packs, and cases. SPEED Energy is available in the United States in major retailers, convenience stores, grocery stores, bars and nightclubs.
About Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. – Toyo Tires manufactures and distributes a complete line of premium replacement tires for nearly every make and model including high performance cars, luxury vehicles, light trucks and SUVs as well as tires for commercial trucks.