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Robby Gordon takes brief lead in the Dakar Rally, heads into the final day's sprint to Buenos Aires in third place

By Mike Mulhern


    Robby Gordon took the lead early in Friday's 13th stage of the South American Dakar Rally, the rugged two-week challenge that ends Saturday in Buenos Aires. But Gordon was unable to hold the lead, when a small rock got caught up in the throttle linkage and cost him 20 minutes for repairs.
   The route, through the La Rioja and Cordoba of Argentina, was marred by heavy rains that made the course impassible in parts, thus forcing changes, and the run was cut from 545 kilometers to 220 kilometers.
    After his throttle hung, and his repairs, Gordon managed to finish 16th, finishing only 22 minutes behind winner Nani Roma.
   Heading into the last day of the event, Gordon still sits third overall, 87 minutes behind the tour leader.
   Gordon's report:
   "Obviously I wish Hummer would have had a better outcome. Regardless of a pesky little rock getting in our way, I am still happy with where we stand going into the last stage.
    "Even though we haven't won any 'specials' yet, we are still here competing for the Dakar Rally title, and that is what that matters. This race is about survival and preparation, and Team Dakar USA has excelled at both. We have been able to address the problems, fix them, and continue.
   The Dakar Rally's final stage will be a 227-kilometer 'special' from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. Gordon is looking at his best overall finish in his five Dakar Rally runs.


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