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Gordon Begins ‘Marathon’ With Top-10 At Dakar Rally

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, January 11 2015

Robby Gordon had another respectable finish in the Dakar Rally on Saturday.


Despite a navigational error at the midpoint of Stage 7, Robby Gordon and Johnny Campbell completed the cross-nation trek from Chile into Bolivia in ninth place Saturday – the American pair’s third consecutive top-10 finish of the 37th annual Dakar Rally.

Stage 7 – from Iquique, Chile, to Uyuni, Bolivia – covered 717-kilometers /446-miles, of which 321-kilometers/199-miles were a timed section for cars. That segment was the first part of a “marathon stage,” during which drivers cannot call upon their assistance teams for help.

Gordon and navigator Campbell left the starting line in Chile with mountains reaching 12,860-feet above sea level separating their HST Gordini from the finish. Only a road book – handed to the teams hours before the start of each stage – aids competitors on their way to the finish. Even with that guide the Traxxas/Toyo Tires team fell victim to an unforced error – a wrong turn – that proved a costly setback. The miscue resulted in the loss of more than nine minutes to eventual stage-winner Orlando Terranova.

A native of Argentina, Terranova and his Mini recorded a time of 3 hours, 31 minutes and 18 seconds _ a comfortable 2 minutes, 20 seconds in front of runnerup Yazeed Alrajhi of Saudi Arabia in a Toyota. Terranova’s victory Saturday marked his third in seven stages, all won by Mini drivers. Bernhard Ten Brinke of The Netherlands finished third in his Toyota.

“It was really difficult. Tough. Complicated. But we’ve made it,” Terranova told NBCSports.com. “Now we’ll try and bring the car to Chile (Sunday), so our crew can take care of it. We’re getting better, but we need to work hard to avoid mistakes, and next year we’ll be stronger.”

Gordon began the rally last Sunday seeking to become the first American to win the international off-road marathon. Navigator Campbell is competing in his fourth Dakar.

Gordon’s time of 3 hours, 42 minutes and 6 seconds allowed him advance from 25th to 23rd in the overall standings. This year’s rally is a 9,111-kilometer/5,661-mile journey through desert terrain in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile over 14 days. Competing in his 11th Dakar, Gordon sits 5 hours, 48 minutes and 31 seconds behind overall leader and Mini driver Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar. Al-Attiyah’s lead shrank to only 8 minutes, 14 seconds over Giniel De Villiers of South Africa in a Toyota.

Al-Attiyah was among several competitors dealing with health issues related to the thin mountain air. “I had to stop three times to vomit and I had a terrible headache every time we went over a bump,” Al-Attiyah said. “I’ve lost some time, but it’s no big deal. We don’t need to push our limits.”

The rally will continue Sunday with a return trip from Uyuni, Bolivia, to Iquique, Chile. The route will be very different, however, starting with extremely fast salt flats followed by technical mountainous roads. The course will end with 40-kilometers/25-miles of soft dunes for the descent from the mountains back into Iquique. The timed section of the stage will be 781-kilometers/485-miles, longest timed stretch of the rally.

Fans can follow the Dakar Rally via live timing and scoring as well as live updates at www.planetrobby.com. NBCSN is providing daily highlights from 4:30 to 5 p.m. (EST).

2015 Dakar Rally Overall Standings/Car Class (Through Stage 7)

1. (301) Nasser Al-Attiyah (Mini), 23 hours, 11 minutes, 50 seconds; 2. (303) Giniel de Villiers (Toyota), plus-8 mins, 14 secs; 3. (325) Yazeed Alrajhi (Toyota), plus-21 mins, 16 secs; 4. (307) Krzysztof Holowczyc (Mini), plus-54 mins, 2 secs; 5. (315) Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota), plus- 57 mins, 3 secs; 6. (314) Erik Van Loon (Mini), plus-1 hr, 15 mins, 11 secs; 7. (309) Christian Lavieille (Toyota), plus-1 hr, 37 mins, 50 secs; 8. (302) Stephane Peterhansel (Peugeot), plus-1 hr, 50 mins, 36 secs; 9. (306) Carlos Sousa (Mitsubishi), plus-1 hr, 58 mins, 32 secs; 10. (320) Ronan Chabot (SMG), plus-2 hrs, 10 mins, 45 secs; 23. (308) Robby Gordon (Gordini), plus-5 hrs, 48 mins, 31 secs.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, January 11 2015
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