Race-Dezert.com sat down with Robby Gordon in Copiapo after his Robby Gordon Motorsports Hummers finished first and second on Stage 7 of the 2012 Dakar Rally. Here is what he had to say.
Race-Dezert.com (RDC)– What made the difference in the Hummers doing so well today? Was it the sand? The extra support truck arriving?
Robby Gordon (RG)– Well the terrain definitely favors the Hummer, we have traditionally done really well in Chile. If it was not for some bad luck in the first week we would already have two more stage wins for the team. Today we had good luck instead of back luck. I flew off a dune today at about 100 mph that was easily twice as big as I have ever gone at Competition Hill (in Glamis). Unfortunately there was no helicopter overhead to film it! It was smooth at the bottom and I was on the brakes hard so Johnny and I just laughed it off.
RDC– So that was the only mistake today?
RG– No, I still had a flat tire- but that was my fault and not Toyo’s. I hit a huge rock at race speed, it was the first time I have ever bent one of my rims. The stage was just long enough today (417 km) that I had time to make up for the tire change.
RDC– And you still made time on the Minis in the overall standings. How is Johnny Campbell doing at navigating?
RG– Johnny is doing great, better every day.
RDC– And did the arrival of the second support truck make a difference?
RG– Not really. We had enough spare parts in one truck to support one Hummer for the entire race. Or in this case, two Hummers for half a race. My father (Baja legend Bob Gordon) brought down a bunch of parts too when he flew in to Chile, just in case the second truck did not make it. Now we are stocked up.
RDC– What changes do you make to the cars on the rest day?
RG– Brakes and CV boots get changed out every other day, and on the rest day we change out basically everything but the engine and shocks. You’ve seen what we have in the Freightliners. Steering servos, a-arms, basically every moving part.
RDC– Do you have separate crews for each car?
RG– Yeah with over twenty people we have learned that you really have to be organized to compete against the huge teams. We have dedicated crews for my car and for Nasser’s car, but we are still one team.
RDC– And how are things going with Nasser?
RG– Good. We have given him a really capable car and he is a talented driver. I am not surprised to see him winning stages.
RDC– Could we see Nasser racing with you down in Baja in the future?
RG– Anything is possible. I think that he could really surprise some people in the desert racing community.
RDC– Who built the Hummer bodies?
RG– We built them in house in North Carolina.
RDC– I thought that Prototype Concepts built them in Reno. I remember seeing them there a couple of years ago.
RG– Yeah they built the old Hummer body and still do my rockers, but they don’t vacuum bag and there is too much resin. The weight isn’t a big deal down low and the rockers are basically disposable, but weight up high is a killer. I don’t have a single aluminum panel in my Hummer… or my Trophy Truck either for that matter.
RDC– And will we see different bodies on the cars next year?
RG– We are working on some different things but nothing has been finalized yet.
RDC– You had “Fuel” on the side of your Hummer in Argentina, but now you have Speed Energy on the car again. Why was that?
RG– There were some licensing issues with a competing brand, but when they made a fuss all it did was create more awareness of our brand. Speed Energy is coming to South America under the “Fuel” banner to avoid any confusion with other brands.
RDC– This is making me thirsty. Can I have a Speed Energy before I go?