He’s back: Robby Gordon to return to Dakar Rally next month after two-year hiatus

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Robby Gordon is giving himself one heck of a 50th birthday present: he’s returning to compete in the 2019 Dakar Rally after a two-year hiatus.

And he’s doing so in a big way.

Gordon, who turns 50 on January 2, just four days before the Rally kicks off its 10-stage/11-day run in Peru from Jan. 6-17, will field three race trucks in one of the most grueling races in the world.

“The Dakar Rally is excited to welcome back Robby Gordon, the most famous American competitor in its history,” said Rally director Xavier Gavory. “An absolute legend of the Dakar for his aggressive driving style and showmanship, Gordon and Team Speed will be one of the teams to keep an eye on in the 2019 edition.”

This year’s Rally will be significantly different than past editions. It’s been shortened from three-plus weeks and nearly 20 stages to just under two weeks and 10 stages.

And for the first time in Rally history, the entire course will be held in one country.

“100 percent Peru, 100 percent Dakar,” Gavory said.

Since competing in his first Dakar Rally in 2005, Gordon has achieved 17 stage wins and five top-15 overall finishes, including a third-place finish in 2009. His last start was in the 2016 Rally.

He is the first American in Rally history to not only earn a stage win, but also the first to earn an overall podium finish.

Gordon will be reunited with navigator Kellon Walch, who has called the route for Gordon in four previous Rally’s.

“I fully intend to come to Peru to compete for the overall, and there is no better person to have in the right seat than Kellon,” Gordon said in a media release. “The in-car communication and mechanical skills between the both of us over the years allows me to have the trust to concentrate on driving.”

Gordon and Team Speed will compete in Textron XX entries that will be sponsored by Toyo Tires, King Off-Road Racing Shocks and Gordon’s own SPEED Energy Drink. Gordon will compete in his 13th Dakar Rally, joined by first-time Rally competitors Blade Hildebrand and Cole Potts.

Hildebrand, who is coming off his first season in Gordon’s Stadium SUPER Trucks series, will have former six-time Rally motorcycle competitor Jonah Street as his navigator.

“This is a race I’ve followed all my life, and to represent Team SPEED and the USA at the international level, competing against the world’s best off-road racers in the most grueling race known to man – what an honor,” Hildebrand said.

Potts, who also drives in Gordon’s Stadium SUPER Trucks series, will have veteran motorcycle racer Max Eddy as his navigator.

“The opportunity to compete in the Dakar in Peru is an exciting opportunity,” Pitts said. “We are going to be able to tackle some of the world’s toughest sand dunes and witness some beautiful terrain.”

This year’s Dakar Rally, the 41st edition in its storied history, begins January 6 in Lima, Peru, and returns to Lima for its conclusion on January 17. The total distance of the 10-stage event (plus one rest day) will be 2,954 kilometers (1,836 miles).

NBCSN will air daily updates, highlights and interviews starting January 7 at 7 p.m. ET, with a special show about Gordon and his Team SPEED teammates.

Updates on Gordon’s and Team SPEED’s progress during the Rally can be found on Instagram and Facebook, as well as the following websites:

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Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.