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Others: robbie gordon wins first stage of dakar rally

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posted on Dec, 31 2004 @ 07:07 PM
gordon was a great off road racer before he went to indy car and nascar, he and his dad raced both the traditional off road races and also the indoor mickey thompson races,

American Gordon makes Dakar Rally history

December 31, 2004
BARCELONA, Spain (AFP) - America's Robby Gordon, driving a Volkswagen, won the first stage of the Dakar rally, a 6km super special, on the Castelldefels beach near Barcelona.

It was a first ever victory by an American in the car category of the rally. He clocked 4min 20.2sec to beat Japan's Mitsubishi driver Hiroshi Masuoka, the winner in 2002 and 2003, by 2.7sec and South Africa's Giniel De Villiers, in a Nissan, by 3.5sec.

"Really it wasn't an easy stage at all, because of the softness of the sand on the course, especially after the jumps," said Gordon, a former NASCAR and Champ Car driver in the United States.

"But, I achieved good jump landings, and everything went well. I was very excited before the start, and it was a great moment with all the spectators. The car is really wonderful, and most importantly, all the team has welcomed me in a fantastic way. Its a great opportunity for me to be here, and I know it."

Masuoka said he was faced with an added problem after falling victim to thieves on the eve of the race.

"On this kind of stage, you have everything to lose, especially with the high bumps, very sharp and tricky. Moreover, someone stole my helmet last night, and the new one wasn't perfectly adapted to me," said the Japanese driver.

"But I think this problem will be sorted out for the next stage in Granada."

Former world rally champion Colin McRae finished in eighth place in a Nissan with defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, in a Mitsubushi, in ninth place.

"This stage was a little bit boring with many uninteresting bumps because they are too high," said Peterhansel.

"We had to brake before each bump. Added to that, the sand was so soft, that we couldn't drive really fast, only an average of 70 km/h. That was very frustrating."

France's David Fretigne, riding a Yamaha, won the motorbike race, clocking 4min 11.6sec to edge out KTM riders Cyril Despres of France by 8.1sec and Dutchman Eric Verhoef by 13sec.

"It was a clean and good special," said Fretigne.

"My goal was not to fall. The sand was really soft, but I didn't make any mistakes."

Following this special stage, the competitors must complete a 17km untimed section back to Barcelona from where they will start Saturday's 920km, second stage to Granada in the south.

In total, 686 vehicles, with 463 racing, are officially taking part in this 27th edition of the rally. There are 164 cars, 230 motorbikes, including six quads and a side-car, and 69 lorries competing, plus 223 support vehicles.

The 8,956km, 16-stage event goes through Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali before finishing in Senegal capital city Dakar on January 16.

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