BELEN, Argentina (January 9, 2016) – Following a respectable eleventh-place finish in the seventh stage of the 38th Dakar Rally, Robby Gordon and Team SPEED would have high hopes for the second half of the rally following the rest day on Sunday. However, those hopes were put to the side early on in Stage 8 as both Robby Gordon and Sheldon Creed would encountered major set backs costing them valuable time on track.
Robby Gordon would start the stage in the eleventh position, within striking distance of the dominant leaders, but shortly after the start of the stage Gordon would make contact with a large rock causing extensive damage to the right front wheel. Teammate twenty-second starting Sheldon Creed would need to stop on course to assist Gordon with the repairs to his HST Gordini.
Although Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch were able to repair the damaged right front and get back up to race speed, the Toyo Tires/TRAXXAS HST Gordini lost over an hour of time and was passed by majority of the vehicles on the course during maintenance.
Shortly after assisting Gordon, Sheldon Creed would ran into his own problems as he became stuck in the sand, and would burn up the clutch, requiring additional assistance. As Creed and navigator Jonah Street were assessing the situation and attempting to make repairs with their distress beacon on, another competitor would come barreling through where they were and strike the Toyo Tires/KMC Wheels Gordini, causing extensive right and left side damage. Between the clutch issues and damage to the vehicle Creed was left significantly behind on the racecourse, but still able to press on once all was repaired.
Gordon who was able to press on and run nearly 300 km smoothly after repairs, would come to a rest again just kilometers from the finish with another issue. In the process of pushing the Gordni so hard to gain time back on the leaders, Gordon would over work the transmission and burn up the gears. Unable to get the car to move again, Gordon would look for a tow back to the bivouac. Luckily a T4 truck competitor strapped on, and towed the Toyo Tires/TRAXXAS HST Gordini to the finish at a blistering pace of nearly 80 mph. Despite being towed, Gordon will be able to start the ninth stage of the Rally on Tuesday provided there are no terminal engine issues.
Gordon would finish the stage in the sixtieth position, 7 hours, 54 minutes, and 46 seconds behind the leader, while Sheldon Creed would limp his beaten and battered Gordni home in the sixty-sixth position spot, 5 hours, 39 minutes, and 17 seconds behind.
Qatar driver Nasser Al-Attiyah picked up his first Stage win of 2016, winning Stage 8 in a time of 4 hours, 12 minutes, 23 seconds, followed closely by Spaniard Carlos Sainz at 4 hours, 12 minutes, 35 seconds, just 12 seconds behind. French drivers Stephan Peterhansel completed the stage in 4 hours, 12 minutes, and 54 seconds to finish third, while fellow countryman Cyril Despres finished fourth with a time of 4 hours, 17 minutes, 3 seconds. Mikko Hirvonen of Finland would round out the top five with a time of 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 5 seconds.
After eight stages of the 2016 Dakar Rally Peterhansel has moved back into the overall lead today after Stage 7 overall leader Loeb would flip over and loose over an hour making repairs. Sainz would claim the second position 2 minutes, 9 seconds back, followed by Stage 8 Winner Al-Attiyah in the third position 14 minutes, and 43 seconds back. Hirvonen holds the fourth position trailing 36 minutes, 42 seconds, while South African Leeroy Poulter holds the fifth position 49 minutes, 32 seconds behind.
The troubles Robby Gordon had in Stage 8 dropped him considerably in the overall standings to thirty-seventh place 7 hour, 54 minutes, and 46 second behind. Creed would also drop to the forty-second spot 9 hours, 12 minutes, 1 second back. Luckily for Team SPEED there is still five stages left to cut into their deficit in hopes of a top twenty overall finish and a Stage win.
Tuesday’s ninth stage of the rally will bring competitors on their second marathon stage, on a loop northwest of the city of Belen, Argentina through scattered dunes, river beds, and harder terrains and back to the bivouac in Belen before night fall. The scenario of Stage 9 is highly suited for the HST Gordini to do well, as long as navigators Kellon Walch and Jonah Street are able to keep a clear head and make the right navigational choices, you will see driver Gordon and Creed move up considerably from their deep in the field starting positions.
Follow the quest for an American podium finish in the 2016 Dakar Rally for Team SPEED through live timing and scoring as well as live updates with chat at http://www.planetrobby.com and http://www.StadiumSuperTrucks.com
NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will provide daily highlights after each stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally at 5:30 p.m. ET. Check your local listings for exact time and channel for availability.
Photos from Stage 8 can be downloaded at the following link below:
Team SPEED is supported by the following partners; SPEED Energy, Toyo Tires, TRAXXAS, KMC Wheels, Arctic Cat, 4 Wheel Parts, Grand Design Recreational Vehicles, Magnaflow Exhaust, Eibach Springs, King Shocks, Outlaw LED, Mastercraft Safety, Holley Performance, Embee Performance, MAC Tools, DeWALT, Freightliner Trucks, Replay XD, Valvoline, Impact by Mastercraft Safety, Lincoln Electric, Torchmate by Lincoln Electric, Ron Davis Racing Products, Techni Waterjet, Mechanix Wear, Saftey-Kleen, Weddle Industries, and Loctite.
Stage 8: Belen – Belen
Special Section: 285 km
Total: 396 km
This loop stage will not really be one for motorbikes and quad bikes, which will finish the first part of this second marathon stage in an isolated bivouac. Prior to this they will have spent the day, alongside the drivers in the other categories, almost entirely off-piste, both in the vegetation-scattered dunes and on harder terrains, sometimes on riverbeds. Physically, the day might prove to be a significant challenge, as the mercury soars. The hardiest drivers will also be those who are the most clear-headed, able to make the right navigational choices, a major challenge of this special section.