Dakar: Mechanical issues plague Robby Gordon in Stage 2

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Any early optimism for Robby Gordon after a podium finish in Sunday’s opening stage of the Dakar Rally has surely given way following a tough Stage 2 on Monday.

Gordon and co-driver Johnny Campbell entered Monday just 42 seconds off the lead in the car category. But multiple mechanical issues on their Gordini, including overheating brakes and then an additional breakdown near the end of the stage, cost them more than four hours.

Needing a tow over the final 30 kilometers, Gordon and Campbell ended up 50th today. Overall, they’re now behind leader/Stage 2 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah by four hours, seven minutes, 36 seconds.

The Dakar website’s ‘Live Feed’ from Stage 2 reports that Gordon’s early brake woes occurred before the first checkpoint and cost him and Campbell roughly 40 minutes. The Planet Robby site has posted a video from French television that shows Gordon trying to fix the issue – you can check it out here.

In 2014, Gordon was waylaid in the opening stage by vapor lock problems that put him back more than two and a half hours. He would soldier through his 100th career Dakar stage in Stage 8, but later on in Stage 11, Gordon was forced to retire from the event due to a compromised air filtration system on his car.

A third-place showing on Sunday – which was later made a second-place showing after Al-Attiyah was penalized – gave Gordon confidence that this year’s Dakar would bring better fortunes.

Instead, he finds himself once again in a deep hole early. But Gordon is looking to push on.

“Everybody is going to have problems on this Dakar,” he said Monday. “I’ve lost four hours, but it’s only the second day of the race. I’m not done for yet, no way.”

NBCSN’s daily coverage of the Dakar Rally is underway. For a full Dakar TV schedule, CLICK HERE.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”