Robby Gordon and Kellon Walch survived another very difficult special on Thursday, during Stage 11 of the 38th Annual Dakar Rally. Navigating the specially built HST Gordini Supercar through complex portions of heavy sand, high-speed gravel roads, and dust the duo safely reached the stage finish in the eleventh position.
Starting the challenging stage in the fifteenth position, Gordon raced out to a blistering pace tearing through the bumps and dust to advance comfortably into the ninth position by km 100.
“The course started rough, almost like whoops, and it really favored the Gordini with the big Toyo Tires on it,”
explained navigator Kellon Walch.
“Then we started to get into the bottom of river beds and the route was faster and smoother.”
Flirting with the top ten throughout the special Gordon kept a consistent pace of the leaders, not taking any risks of damaging the Toyo Tires/TRAXXAS Gordini. As any experienced Dakar racer knows taking the checkered flag in Rosario on Saturday to finish the 13-stage race is just as important and claiming a stage victory.
Gordon finished the stage in the eleventh position, with a time of 5 hours, 11 minutes, and 54 seconds. Only 22 minutes, and 38 seconds behind defending Dakar Rally Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, whom claimed his second stage win of 2016, finishing Stage 11 in a time of 4 hours, 49 minutes, 16 seconds.
Early overall leader Sebastien Loeb claimed the second spot with a time of 4 hours, 55 minutes, 08 seconds. While Mikko Hirvonen of Finland rounded out the podium with a time of 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 17 seconds. Frenchman Stephan Peterhansel was credited with fourth in a time of 4 hours, 57 minutes, 21 seconds, with Saudi Arabia driver Yazeed Alrajhi would claim his second top-five of the rally with a time of 5 hours, 1 minute, and 13 seconds.
After eleven grueling stages of the 2016 Dakar Rally, Peterhansel holds the overall lead over second place Al-Attiyah by 51 minutes, and 55 seconds. While South African Ginel De Villers claim’s the third position 1 hour, 17 minutes, 24 seconds back, followed by Hirvonen in the fourth position 1 hour, 22 minutes, 47 seconds behind. LeeRoy Poulter rounds out the top five with a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes, 58 seconds.
Robby Gordon’s eleventh place finish today moves into the twenty-seventh position in the overall standings 10 hours, 38 minutes, and 55 seconds behind the winning pace of Peterhansel.
Friday the cars will race from San Juan to Villa Carlos Paz in Stage 12. The longest stage of rally (900 km) will start with an exceptionally long liaison, which despite the slower speeds, will still put additional stress on the already strained race engines and drivers. The first transfer section is followed by the 481-kilometer timed race through the semi-mountainous terrain, lined with vegetation on both sides of the course making it super tight in locations.