|SA-Dakar Rally: Nasser Al Attiyah started the rally on tow of Robby Gordon.|
On the first day of the New Year, the competitors of the 2012 Dakar Rally prepared for an early start, which took them from the beach city of Mal Del Plata to Santa Rosa de La Pampa. The special stage section was only 57 km, making it the shortest racing section of the rally.
Nasser Al-Attiyah would start out with an advantage being the first car on the road, and teammate Robby Gordon would follow off the line in fourth. When the auto class got to the special stage, they would find areas to pass the competition along the coast line and drive into small dunes that represented their first hurdle. In this short section, the fastest time would establish each competitors position in the rankings.
By checkpoint 1 of the Special Stage, Al-Attiyah and Gordon were running first and second, only 9 seconds between them with Peterhansel 51 secs behind. The Hummers were off to a great start, proving to be a real contender. Unfortunately only 2km from the finish, Al-Attiyah's Hummer lost power. Seeing his teammate on the side of the road, Gordon had no choice but to help the 2011 Dakar Champion cross the finish.
Towing the Qatar/Toyo Tires Hummer, Gordon ended up losing valuable seconds, resulting in him being the third car to finish. He ended up fifth based on corrected time. Al-Attiyah's finish will be determined at a later time due to the fact he had assistance. Al-Attiyah and his navigator Lucas Cruz would evaluate the situation with their vehicle before heading towards Santa Rosa de la Pampa. Not really knowing what exactly happened, they were able to communicate with Gordon to help get his Hummer up and running again.
Back at the bivouac, Team Speed crew members will diagnose the situation with #300 and work together to get Al-Attiyah prepared for tomorrow's Special Stage 2 which will begin approximately at 12:39am ARG local time.
"I was having a difficult time getting used to reading the road book along with telling Robby the danger points. Everything was a danger out there. He was going so fast it was just hard to keep up and we would have won the stage without helping Nasser. So we'll see what happened there," navigator Johnny Campbell commented after his first competition run in Gordon's Hummer.
"Our car had a good run. We got beat by 30 seconds or more so I think we easily could have won the stage or Nasser could have won. Not sure how long he was sitting there, but like I said it was a good run. It looks like he's got a transmission leak so we'll have to put a transmission cover on the side of it to prevent anymore fluid getting on the back of the car," Gordon said after earning a 5th place finish for the day.
Stage 2 will have a Special Stage of 290km and 487km of Liaison starting in Santa Rosa de la Pampa and ending in San Rafael where Gordon will start in 5th and Nasser's position in 30th, 9 minutes and 45 seconds back of the leader.
2012/01/01 | 10:17 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/SPEED