Despite a navigational error at the midpoint of Saturday’s seventh stage of the Dakar Rally, which resulted in a loss of more than nine minutes to eventual stage winner Orlando Terranova, Robby Gordon came home ninth Saturday securing his third consecutive top-10 stage finish of the 37th Dakar Rally.
Like all competitors, Gordon and navigator Johnny Campbell left the starting line in Chile with mountains reaching 12,860 feet above sea level and more than 321 kilometers (199 miles) of twisting, turning trails separating them from the finish. Only a road book, handed to teams just hours before the start of each stage, can help competitors find their way to the finish, making navigation as important as mechanical reliability in the Rally.
The Traxxas/Toyo Tires team’s wrong turn was its only setback on an otherwise flawless run. On a day where race organizers predicted many tire failures due to the rocky and rough terrain, Gordon’s Toyo Tires again held up without failure. Gordon hasn’t had a Toyo Tires issue in the Dakar Rally since 2012.
Argentina native Terranova recorded a time of 3 hours, 31 minutes and 18 seconds, a dominating 2 minutes and 20 seconds over second-place finisher Yazeed Alrajhi of Saudi Arabia. Terranova’s win Saturday marked his third 2015 stage victory. The Netherlands Bernhard Ten Brinke finished third.
Gordon’s Stage 7 time of 3 hours, 42 minutes and 6 seconds helped him advance further in the overall standings of the grueling 9,111-kilometer race (5,661 miles), improving his position to 23rd overall. He is now scored 5 hours, 48 minutes and 31 seconds behind overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar. All-Attiyah’s lead shrank to only 8 minutes and 14 seconds over Giniel De Villiers of South Africa.
The 13-stage Rally will continue for competitors on 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), the longest timed stretch of the Rally.