The HUMMERS of Robby Gordon and Nasser Al-Attiyah were the pride and joy of rest day in COPIAPO’ yesterday and had the honors of starting stage 8 in front of the rest of the field. Nasser, who won stage 7 nicely, left the start at 10:26 local time and Gordon/Campbell only 3 minutes later.
STAGE 8 SUMMARY
But early on, Nasser and Lucas lost a belt and hed to stop and change. Then, they lost the alternator and had to stop for second time, costing him close to 19 minutes. But in typical Nasser “Yalla Yalla” style, he said, “Let’s Go!, Full Attack” and started snipping off time at every checkpoint. He trimmed his 18:36 minute deficit down to 16 and then again down to 14, then 13. At the finish he more than halved his original deficit down to 08:09 minutes to finish 5th, where he stands on the general rankings, 45 minutes off the lead. Nasser’s effort is not over by any means but his team mates Robby and Johnny are very much in the hunt for the unprecedented first DAKAR OA by any American.
NASSER AL-ATTIYAH: “We had a problem with an engine belt. We repaired it… and shortly after it was the alternator’s turn to need a repair. But then we started attacking in earnest. There were six cars in front of us and we overtook all the Minis, as well as De Villiers’ Toyota. We did a good job. They are nervous because I overtook all of them, but that is not my problem. I know everything is going smoothly, and we will see how far we can go.”
Robby and Johnny had to pass a stranded Al-Attiyah as Robby had laid it down that the orange HUMMER could not stop again to aid the Qatari’s HUMMER. While Robby and Johnny did get off to a great start they started losing time to the MINI’S, but then RG put his foot down and started rallying toward Antofagosta and made up several minutes of deficit to finish the stage only 00:05 behind Nani Roma.
“Nani may have beat me, but it must have been close. Beating Peterhansel by seven minutes makes this a great day. In all honesty, I did not attack too much, except towards the end of the stage. At any rate, I was not at my best in the first 300 kilometres, only in the last 150. I felt the others breathing down my neck, so I accelerated.”
We can start to imagine the pressure on rookie co-pilot Johnny “11-Time” Campbell as he sits in the cockpit of RG’s HUMMER calling off navigation signals as well as doing tire changes and generally helping RG with race strategy. Campbell has been making some calls that Gordon concurred with which paid off. There are 6 stages remaining on the DAKAR and Team SPEED is very much in contention to claim America’s first title in the world’s most important motorsports event. America is on the edge of our seats watching and cheering for Gordon and Campbell to stay up front, consistent and fast.
In the bikes category, the Mark (Coma) and Cyril (Despres) show continued today with Coma jumping out in front and missing a wicked mud hole that swallowed the Frenchman Despres whole. Despres had a comfortable lead over Coma in the general standings at the start of the stage but gave it all away after his mishap. After Cyril was completely stopped and stuck, the Portuguese Goncalves, stopped to aid Despres and got stuck himself. After Cyril was freed, he took off thinking Goncalves was all set. There is a code on the DAKAR stage and we think and Goncalves followed it right.