Dakar is done for another year. The Mitsubishi team won in the car division, capitalizing on their reliability, rather than outright speed. That is not to say they were slow by any means, but reliability is king in any endurance event. The HUMMER of Robby Gordon and Team Dakar USA finished a well deserved 8th. Reliability and bad luck prevented a better finish, but they cranked off a stage win and a number of top 5 stage finishes. The team did a great job overall.
So why is it that the Monster Energy HUMMER crew received such poor coverage in the televised coverage?
First of all, I should point out that the Garage isn’t a Robby Gordon fan site by an stretch of the imagination. Robby is one of those rare modern drivers who is more like a racer from the Sixties. Put the guy in something with wheels and you don’t have to tell him to go fast, he just does it. A racer’s racer. We’ve had a focus on Robby Gordon this month because he’s a North American who is competing in one of the worlds toughest races, against the best the world has to offer. The sponsors of Team Dakar USA have made it possible for the the team to publish some killer footage through the open source that is Youtube. For that, we are more than thankful, as there are few things better than killer in car video.
So what’s the deal here? Well, here in North America, we are very limited to the Dakar coverage we receive. We are lucky now that a British feed of some sort is televised on OLN, daily for the whole event. The problem is that the Brits tend to either ignore or minimize the American team to the point where it’s almost laughable. Here in The Garage, we’ve been lucky to post HUMMER videos almost daily for the whole event. It’s a good thing too, because those 2 minute videos show the North American viewer a heck of a lot more relevant coverage of their team. Oh sure, they show VW’s, Mitsu’s and BMW’s and even some European rookies but we might be lucky to see 3 seconds of the HUMMER.
Tonight, on the wrap up show they showed Robby overcook it into a corner and scare the crap out of a bunch of spectators. A mistake. So what. Then, they showed a move that is pretty common in Baja but I don’t think is all that well received over there…the bump. Robby nudged a guy from behind to let him know he wanted by and it was caught on camera. In Baja coverage, this is normal, but on the Dakar I get the feeling that the Brits were trying to belittle the brash American.
I could be wrong, but I think that Team Dakar USA is the first American team and driver to win a stage at Dakar. They also had several top fives and finished in the top ten overall. These guys have made some incredible accomplishments. They’ve got some pretty powerful marketing people, maybe they can convince an American network to fund some real coverage for next year. Heck, MTV follows the Gumball side show, why don’t they head to the dark continent in 2008 to see Robby Gordon win the whole enchilada?