|A massive crowd of thousands of enthusiastic fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite drivers, and riders stood outside Saturday’s mandatory race briefing and opening ceremony for the 37th Dakar Rally, prior to the hundreds of competitors partaking in the timed mini-section from Buenos Aires to Rosario. Based on their the finishing times in the prologue drivers and riders will be lined up in logical starting order for Sunday’s Stage 1 of the 2016 Rally.
While all were properly recognized by the large crowd, it was the United States’ Robby Gordon, celebrating his birthday, who was completely surrounded by adoring fans as they let it be known who the Dakar Rally’s clear fan favorite is. After the feel-good exit from the race briefing where Gordon and teammate 2015 Stadium SUPER Trucks Champion Sheldon Creed were surrounded by thousands, Team SPEED made their way to Saturday’s opening ceremonies outside Argentina’s presidential palace Casa Rosada, as fans wished competitors good luck prior to the start of the days 11 km timed mini-section to Rosario.
The short prologue, which saw all competitors compete in a time-special, saw Robby Gordon finish 25 seconds off the leader Bernhard Ten Brinke’s pace in the 25th position, while Dakar rookie Sheldon Creed would round out his prologue effort out in the 38th position, 1 minute behind the leader respectively. It is noted after 64 drivers took the green in the special a Mini-competitor in the car division lost control and went into the crowd during his prologue effort forcing ASO officials to cancel the rest of the short special.
With the preliminaries and prologue complete, Team SPEED, is spending the final hours making preparations for Sunday’s first special from Rosario to Villa Carlos (Stage No. 1), where Gordon and Creed will be two of most watched competitors in the car division.
The first stage on Sunday will include 662 kilometers with 258 km (160.3 miles) of those featuring hard racing before an overnight break at the first full bivouac at Villa Carlos Paz. The circuit follows the heart of the Argentinean countryside with fast, sharp turns that will divide up the field on day one in a showcase of driver skill. All teams that complete the stage will work on their race vehicles overnight and line up again for Monday’s second stage in the order in which they finished the first leg of the Rally.
Villa Carlos Paz lies on the western slope of the Sierras Chicas and its population of 56,000 will be a stark contrast to the more than three million people that teams encountered in the Metropolitan limits of Buenos Aires. While the lakeside tourist town may be smaller, its crowds should be just as enthusiastic when the vehicles and their support teams begin arriving Monday afternoon.
While the 2016 Dakar Rally will not be won on Sunday, it will become immediately clear who the contenders for the championship will be and will also likely eliminate some of this year’s top competitors.
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 1: Rosario – Villa Carlos Paz
Cars – Trucks
Special Sections: 258 km
Total: 662 km
Argentina is a country of mountains, in all forms. Although the first stage is not yet at altitude, the summits are well and truly visible. The wheels of the vehicles follow sinewy and undulating tracks, with the exception of the first, faster, part of the special section. A partial separation of the categories will ensure dangerous overtaking is avoided.
Robby Gordon Greeted Enthusiastically at Dakar Rally PreliminariesWritten by Adam Sinclair
Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
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