Dakar: Robby Gordon wins shortened final stage; Al-Attiyah now 2-time champ (VIDEO)

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Driving rain shortened Sunday’s 13th and final stage of the 2015 Dakar Rally from a scheduled 174km special to a mere sprint of 34km for the car category.

But a win’s a win, and in these circumstances, American driver Robby Gordon has picked up the last stage victory of the event by 25 seconds over Toyota’s Leeroy Poulter and 29 seconds over Renault’s Emiliano Spataro.

Gordon started the 2015 Dakar with a second-place finish only to have mechanical problems in Stage 2 effectively ruin his hopes of a much-coveted overall win.

But when his HST Gordini was able to hold up, its solid pace enabled Gordon and co-driver Johnny Campbell to, more often than not, run with or close to the leaders.

Altogether, the American duo will head home with one win, three podiums, four Top-5s, and seven Top-10s in the 13-stage rally – good for a 19th place finish in the overall standings, which is not a bad showing considering they were as low as 48th on the big board following Stage 2.

“Some of the things that bit us early in the race really put the mentality of the team behind, but one thing about our team is they don’t stop,” Gordon said on Sunday. “They worked all night long every night and kept rebuilding the car.

“We learned to not give up and the most important thing is that we know our car is capable. We won the last stage of the rally and ended the 2015 event on a positive note.”

But while Gordon has put another Dakar stage win in his pockets, Nasser Al-Attiyah is the man of the hour. The Qatari is now a two-time Dakar champion following a sixth-place showing in Sunday’s stage.

With his latest triumph in the world’s toughest rally, Al-Attiyah also continues to add to his own impressive sporting resume. Along with his success in the Dakar and other cross-country rallies, he’s also a five-time Olympian in the sport of skeet shooting.

In his most recent Olympic go-round at the 2012 London Games, he won the bronze medal. He’s quite the sportsman, indeed.

And today, he’s a very happy one after finishing more than half an hour ahead of his closest rival, Toyota’s Giniel de Villiers, to add another Dakar trophy to his mantle.

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New Dakar champ Nasser Al-Attiyah (right) celebrates with co-driver Matthieu Baumel (left). Photo: Getty Images.

“I’m delighted I’ve won the Dakar,” Al-Attiyah said today. “…It’s fantastic because we’ve dominated the race from the beginning and were able to control the rally throughout.

“I’ve got lots of people to thank for this. I came to the Dakar in top-notch form, both physically and mentally. Then, we managed to do our job day after day. It’s fantastic. Now I want to win even more.”

de Villiers pursued Al-Attiyah for much of the Dakar, keeping within range up until Tuesday’s Stage 9.

Less than 10 minutes separated the two drivers going into that stage, but toward the end of it, a navigational error cost de Villiers 15 minutes.

The setback caused the South African to basically concede the Dakar to Al-Attiyah barring a major problem for the latter.

That didn’t happen, as Al-Attiyah promptly rattled off back-to-back wins in the next two days and stayed out of trouble for the remainder.

Another Mini driver, Krzysztof Holowczyc, has completed this year’s overall podium at more than one and a half hours behind Al-Attiyah. For a while, it appeared that the third-place step would be occupied by Saudi rookie Yazeed Alrajhi.

But his retirement before Thursday’s Stage 11 opened the door for Holowczyc, who didn’t earn a Top-3 finish in any of the stages but remained steady (four Top-5s, 10 Top-10s) and avoided the killer setbacks (worst stage finish of 18th in Stage 11).

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally concludes tomorrow with Stage 13 highlights at 6 a.m. ET.

2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Cars
(After Stage 13 – Rosario to Buenos Aires, Argentina)

1. 301-Nasser Al-Attiyah (Mini), 40hrs, 32mins, 25secs
2. 303-Giniel de Villiers (Toyota), + 35:34
3. 307-Krzysztof Holowczyc (Mini), + 1:32:01
4. 314-Erik Van Loon (Mini), + 3:01:52
5. 310-Vladimir Vasilyev (Mini), + 3:12:41
6. 309-Christian Lavieille (Toyota), + 3:15:58
7. 315-Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota), + 3:42:02
8. 306-Carlos Sousa (Mitsubishi), + 3:44:59
9. 329-Aidyn Rakhimbayev (Mini), + 4:08:44
10. 320-Ronan Chabot (SMG), +4:42:36
19. 308-Robby Gordon (Gordini), + 7:47:40

‘One and Only’ Kyle Larson wins Outlaws opener at Knoxville Raceway

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Paul Arch/World of Outlaws
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The magic of dirt racing wins for Kyle Larson continued Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway, where he scored his third consecutive World of Outlaws victory at the famed half-mile track to open “The One and Only.”

After starting 10th, Larson sliced through the field and passed pole-sitter Logan Schuchart to lead the final eight laps in the No. 57 of car owner Paul Silva.

“Just an awesome race,” Larson said after earning $10,000 for his second consecutive NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory (after winning at Pevely, Missouri, last Saturday), his sixth Outlaws victory this season and 14th of his career.

LARSON ON NASCAR‘I’d love an opportunity if it came’

“I was able to track Logan down and hit the bottom really well in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a run on him.  It felt like I needed to take advantage of that before we got to heavier traffic and slid him and felt some contact. So, glad to see him not in the wall or anything like that. Just, hard work there. Heartbeat is up again.”

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson scored his sixth World of Outlaws victory Thursday (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).

It was the fourth Knoxville victory this year for Larson, who swept a World of Outlaws doubleheader weekend June 12-13 at the Sprint Car Captial of the World. He has more than 30 victories this year in sprint cars and midgets.

The One and Only continues Friday night with another $10,000 feature race that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s Brownells Capitani Classic, which pays $50,000 to win.

The event is the Outlaws’ richest purse of 2020 and subs in for the annual Knoxville Nationals, which was canceled for COVID-19 concerns. Larson, a two-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up, has said winning The One and Only would be on the same as Knoxville’s signature event because of its tough three-day format.

Through the first of three nights, Schuchart and Larson are tied for second in The One and Only points standings, which factor in qualifying, heats, dash and feature races. Aaron Reutzel, an All Star Circuit of Champions stalwart who finished third Thursday, leads with 430 points.

A crash in Thursday’s 25-lap feature eliminated past Outlaws champions Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz after Cory Eliason spun in front of Sweet in Turn 1 to start the wreck, which also collected Sweet’s teammate, James McFadden. Sweet and Schatz finished outside the top 20, which moved Schuchart into the points lead for the 2020 season.

Schuchart still seemed slightly miffed after finishing second to Larson.

“As the race went on, I felt like I wasn’t hitting my marks as good,” he said. “I would have liked to of had a little bit better of a race with Kyle there. I wish his slide job was a little better there, but he’s got a reputation to live up to. That’s where you let other people make the rules and maybe we’ll get him next time.”


RESULTS

NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps) – 1. 57-Kyle Larson [10]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart [1]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel [2]; 4. 2-Carson Macedo [24]; 5. 41-David Gravel [6]; 6. 21-Brian Brown [7]; 7. 71-Spencer Bayston [3]; 8. 18-Gio Scelzi [15]; 9. 12N-Joey Saldana [5]; 10. 5-Ian Madsen [19]; 11. 17A-Austin McCarl [21]; 12. 1A-Jacob Allen [11]; 13. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [16]; 14. 7S-Jason Sides [20]; 15. 24-Rico Abreu [22]; 16. 4-Terry McCarl [13]; 17. 2KS-Brooke Tatnell [18]; 18. O9-Matt Juhl [23]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [25]; 20. 83-Daryn Pittman [9]; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser [17]; 22. 15-Donny Schatz [8]; 23. 26-Cory Eliason [4]; 24. 49-Brad Sweet [12]; 25. 9-James McFadden [14]; Lap Leaders: Logan Schuchart 1-17, Kyle Larson 18-25; KSE Hard Charger Award: 2-Carson Macedo[+20]

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson celebrated with his family and team after the first night of The One and Only (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).