V before pleasure is often the duty. It's the same with figure skating, and it's no different with the Dakar rally. In the early years of the rally, in the eighties, the participants had to jerk more than 1,000 kilometers through wintry France from the start in Paris. The motorcyclists often almost froze themselves off before their rally equipment went on the ferry and then the first special stage kilometers were on the program in more mildly air-conditioned countries such as Morocco, Tunisia or Libya.
Luxury bivouac in the pampas
In contrast to Europe, January is nice and warm in Argentina. So none of the participants have to freeze on the miserably long connecting stages to the north, where the action takes place. But the drive on the mostly bolt-straight roads through the pampas is boring anyway.
The first bivouac near the city of Victoria in the province of Entre Rios, 350 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires, made up for it. The camp, which is built in the best panoramic position, serves as a leisure park in civil life - including swimming pools, driving range and all sorts of things. With its clean Swiss showers and the flawless white tablecloths in the thatched roof restaurant, the bivouac was more reminiscent of a luxurious Club Méditerranée or DTM hospitality than of a traditional Dakar bivouac, which has always been more rustic.
Robby Gordon as a stunt pilot
Most drivers didn't really care. Because now it was said: Just sleep one more time, then it finally starts. Most of them have been in Argentina for over a week. They spent many hours doing excruciatingly tiresome chores such as paperwork, sponsor appointments, autograph sessions and the like that motorsport professionals love about as much as headaches. The many duties of representation can be quite exhausting for a racing driver. And then one or the other gets stupid thoughts.
Robby Gordon shot the bird this time when he idled his Hummer on the connection stage in the middle of a city freeway in Buenos Aires. He ordered his co-driver, Kellon Walsh, to keep the steering wheel straight ahead. Then the American climbed out of the window at 60 km /h - the Hummer prototype has no doors - and made himself comfortable on the roof. After this stunt, the already extremely enthusiastic fans were now completeout of the house.
US-Boy also active at night
On New Year's Eve, too, Robby Gordon could be found wherever there is full life. While some Volkswagen works drivers abseiled from dinner shortly after 10 p.m. ('I'm so terribly tired'), Gordon maintained a racing tradition that many thought had been buried many years ago, at least since Formula 1 playboy James Hunt died of a heart attack.
At two o'clock in the night, Gordon left the Hilton Hotel for nightlife, accompanied by two very short-skirted, brunette beauties. The cynics among the eyewitnesses suspected that the beauties were his Spanish teacher and his Pilates trainer. Guessed wrong. The research revealed something more profane: In truth, both of them took care of the team's fan merchandise sales in the Cordoba bivouac.
Nausea in the Hummer
Also on the first special test, he delivered - in a positive sense - crazy Americans a remarkable story. 'How was my day today?' Gordon asked rhetorically at the finish. 'Ha, that's a long story.' He reported cooling problems and all kinds of other zores. 'And then my passenger, Kennon Walsh, felt sick.'
'Yes, did you stop then?' Asks the reporter, interested. 'Sure, what else,' answered Gordon. 'We had to swap the helmets.' The intercom microphone, mounted on the helmet, was damaged after poor Walsh's misery. And with that I give it back to the broadcasting house. enjoy the meal! The original Argentinean steak in the Cordoba bivouac is calling!