TERMAS DE RIO HONDO, Argentina (January 4, 2016) – After a cancellation of the first stage on Sunday due to inclement weather, Americans Robby Gordon and Sheldon Creed would roll their identically prepared SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini supercars to the starting line and take the green flag of Stage 2 on Monday morning.
However, like the previous day it was known right away that weather would play a huge factor in the outcome of the stage as Rally officials would shorten the special from 521 km (323.7 mi) to 387 km (240.5 mi) as the risk of low lying clouds and darkness would threaten to ground safety aircraft during the later moments of the year’s longest special.
Dealing with a hilly rain soaked course with over flowing streams and rivers, Team SPEED knew they would have their work cut out for them in the first challenge of the 38th Annual Dakar Rally.
Starting in the 29th position Robby Gordon broke out to a blistering pace working his way up to the 15th position by km 120 just 3 minutes and 51 seconds behind leader Sebastian Loeb. But like any form of racing qualifying in the front has drastic advantages, especially in off-road racing, and today was no different as competitors who started further back dealt with a chewed up race course.
Shortly after the km 170 mark Gordon would find an obstacle that was too just much for the SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires / TRAXXAS HST Gordini to bare as it came to rest stuck in a thick bog of deep mud. While Gordon and Navigator Kellon Welch accessed and worked themselves out of the situation, 15 minutes were lost to the leader once back on course and moving.
Gordon would go on to finish Stage 2 in 4 hours, 3 minutes and 22 seconds, 17 minutes and 17 seconds behind the time set by stage winner and overall leader Sebastian Loeb of France who finished in a time of 3 hours, 45 minutes and 46 seconds.
“Things were going really good today, and we just got stuck, it’s very unfortunate to give up all that time to the leaders,” stated Gordon after Stage 2.
With 11 stages remaining Gordon has plenty of time to make up as much of the 17 minute and 17 second deficit as possible, and try to add to his impressive ten career stage victories throughout his 11-year Dakar career.
Team SPEED teammate and 2015 SST Champion Sheldon Creed re-wrote the Dakar history books today by becoming the youngest competitor in the history of the Dakar Rally at the bright age of 18 to start a stage. Creed would race a respectable and smart race finishing his first Dakar stage in a time of 4 hours, 20 minutes, and 54 seconds, just 35 minutes and 8 seconds behind the leader Loeb.
Tuesday’s third stage (663 kilometers/412 miles) will take drivers from Termas De Rio Hondo to San Salvador De Jujuy through one of the most beautiful regions in Argentina. The stage was designed for those hunting down the leaders opportunities to make advances. Gordon has no other choice, but to drive hard and finish among the top fifteen in hopes of an improved starting position for future stages.
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 starting Monday, January 5th at 5:30 p.m. ET. Check your local listings for exact time and channel for availability.
Photos from Stage 2 can be downloaded from the following link:
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 3: Termas De Rio Hondo – San Salvador De Jujuy
Special Sections: 314 km
Total: 663 km
The format is tighter for the day’s race against the clock.. as are the mountain tracks featured in the special section. Experts in sliding and on the road will be able to showcase their skills here, as long as they stay constantly focused. Those hunting down the leaders will be on high alert during this route, which has been designed for opportunists. But the program could also be transformed by any rain: as even the strongest competitors do not necessarily perform well on heavy ground.