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.

source:
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

After eating just one chip, NHRA drag racer says: ‘I seriously thought I was going to die’

Alex Laughlin official Instagram page
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Editor’s note: Due to rain, Sunday’s final eliminations of the NHRA Carolina Nationals have been postponed to Monday morning at 10 a.m. ET. In the meantime, check out this rather unusual tale:

Remember the old Lays Potato Chips commercial from back in the 1980s that bragged “No one can eat just one”?

Well, ask NHRA Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin and a few members of his team, and they’ll tell you they learned a very valuable lesson that there indeed IS a chip that you can only eat one of.

According to NHRA’s National Dragster, Laughlin and Elite Motorsports crew members Chase Freeman, Kelly Murphy and Brian Cunningham took part Friday night in the Paqui One Chip Challenge.

If you haven’t heard of the Challenge, Paqui Chips has produced a tortilla chip that the company boldly claims is the hottest chip ever made anywhere in the world. The secret is the “Carolina Reaper” pepper, considered the hottest chili pepper in the world, with a rating of 1.9 million Scoville units, according to PuckerButt Pepper Company.

How hot is 1.9 million Scoville units? Let’s put it this way: the Devil might even have a hard time taking this kind of heat. By comparison, a Jalapeno pepper only reaches 10,000 units on the Scoville rating. 

So while they were enjoying some downtime Friday night after the first two rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (suburban Charlotte), Laughlin and Co. paid $30 for one chip – you read that right, $30 for one chip, it’s THAT hot – and thought they could take the heat.

They thought wrong.

“This is the hottest chip in the world,” Laughlin said on an Instagram post that documented the entire experience, adding a warning, “What to expect: Mouth on fire, short-term loss of speech, impaired vision from tears, extreme profanity — or death.”

View this post on Instagram

Never. Ever. Again.

A post shared by Alex Laughlin (@alexlaughlin40) on

 

Laughlin’s post also includes several reader comments that Laughlin and his crew should have had milk on hand instead of water to try and cool things down because milk has a natural antidote to cool your mouth down after eating hot food.

Sunday morning, with his mouth and throat still a bit sore, Laughlin recalled the red-hot episode to National Dragster’s Kevin McKenna:

Never again. Never. Ever. Ever,” Laughlin told McKenna. “It was definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

One of our guys showed me a You Tube video and it looked like it wasn’t going to be too bad. I like spicy food and it’s usually never a problem. I’ve been to those places with hot wings where you have to sign a waiver before you eat them and that’s never been a problem.

But this? This is on a whole different level. I thought it might last ten minutes. Fourteen hours later, I was still in bad shape. I woke up at 3 a.m. and Googled “internal bleeding.” I seriously thought I was going to die. We all did.”

So if the heat from the chip was off the hotness Richter scale, where did the stunt rank on Laughlin’s own personal Richter scale?

I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.

Well, I really didn’t think it would be that bad,” Laughlin told McKenna with a shrug. “I mean, it’s just one tortilla chip. Like I said, I can usually eat stuff that other people won’t eat, but I had no idea what I was in for.

“I’ve done some dumb things, but this is right up there.”

If you’re up for another challenge in the future that involves eating hot food, Alex, here’s a suggestion: Even though it’s a few years old now, maybe you should try the Ice Bucket Challenge (but fill it with milk) to cool down quick. Just a thought.

Follow @JerryBonkowski