Robby Gordon, who faces Dakar Rally disqualification after his Hummer was deemed to have broken race regulations, won the 12th stage on Friday, and then blasted rivals for questioning his integrity.
Gordon, who has appealed the stewards’ decision imposed on Wednesday, came home ahead of Russia’s Leonid Novotskiy, in a Mini, and Giniel de Viliers of South Africa, driving a Toyota.
France’s Stephane Peterhansel, who was sixth on Friday after his Mini got bogged down in a sand dune, remained on top of the overall standings.
Peterhansel, a six-time motorcycle champion and three-time car winner, is 1 hour, 44 minutes ahead of Gordon, who is fourth overall.
He is also 20 minutes in front of second-placed Nani Roma, who was fifth on Friday, and more than an hour ahead of de Villiers, who is in third, with just two days left to run.
Gordon vented his anger at Peterhansel and Nani over the ongoing controversy, which centers on the Hummer’s tire-inflation system.
“I showed the plug that everyone’s been talking about that gives me all super power and I just proved that Minis are for girls, because we beat them by 20 minutes,” Gordon told the rally’s Web site. “Last night, I went through a whole thing and went on Youtube. You can go to Robby Gordon-Dakar-Air inflation; check it out, it’s posted and explains the whole system. It’s the same system that the French officials approved one year ago and now they’ve changed their minds. I’m pissed at Stephane and I’m pissed at Nani for challenging my character about being a cheater and today I kicked their asses.”
Meanwhile, Peterhansel said he was concerned when his vehicle sunk in the sand on Friday.
“As soon as we crossed the first dunes, we went over a crest and behind it was a sink hole. We got stuck. We lost at least 20 minutes, which meant that we would also lose the lead in the general standings,” he said. “We cleared some sand and moved the car forward centimeter by centimeter to get out. Afterwards, I took risks to claw the time back. That was the 50km where I’ve attacked the most during the whole rally. In the end we caught up with Nani several kilometres from the finish, so he must have had problems too.”
Spain’s Marc Coma reclaimed the overall lead in the motorcycle section when he stormed to victory on the stage from Arequipa to Nasca, replacing France’s Cyril Despres.
The KTM rider, who had been more than two minutes off the lead overnight, led home fellow Spaniards Joan Barreda Bort, on a Husqvarana, by 2 minutes, 43 seconds, and KTM teammate Jordi Viladoms, 3 minutes, 10 seconds off the pace.
French rider Despres, who had snatched the lead back from Coma on Thursday, was fourth on the day and now stands in second place overall, 1 minute, 35 seconds behind.
“It was a difficult day. I set off four minutes after Cyril and I managed to catch up with him,” Coma said.
With just two stages left, Despres said he was looking forward to the concluding weekend.
“It was a magnificent stage, one of the finest specials that I’ve ridden on the Dakar over the last few years,” said Despres, the 2005, 2007 and 2010 winner. “I expected that Marc was going to catch up with me and that it wouldn’t be a good day, but I don’t have any regrets, because I attacked throughout the first part. You have to go for broke on this Dakar — it’s not a race where you can play the waiting game.”