This year’s Dakar Rally has driven home to me the absolute need to have good reliable team mates or partners in order to finish well, or indeed to even finish. The Dakar is the world’s toughest motorsports event. Just being a fast driver or having a fast car does not guarantee a good finish. In the Dakar, as in no other motorsports activity, is the old racing truism more true – in order to finish first, first you must finish.
I will confess to being a fan of the American driver, Robby Gordon, in his Hummer. At first, when I saw that last year’s winner Nasser Al-Attiyah had joined the Hummer team I thought that this would greatly increase the probability of a Gordon win or at least a victory by one of the Hummers. However upon reflection, I have now come to the opinion that the key to winning a Dakar is not necessarily having a fast team mate, it’s having a competitive team mate who understands the team concept. The team concept is that the highest priority is to get a team car to victory and to achieve that victory for oneself is of secondary priority. Working together in a team provides so much more opportunity to win for all team members. Robby Gordon needed a better a team mate.
To date, Nasser Al-Attiyah has not grasped this team concept. I should have seen this last year at the Dakar rally when he was squabbling with his Volkswagen team mate, Carlos Sainz. Last year, I admired his feistiness; this year I see that it is actually toxic. Al-Attiyah appears to be only interested in himself. Further, I think that he has diminished himself with his performance at Dakar 2012. He might be able to find himself a ride on a big team, who can afford to have a “jack rabbit” to set a fast early pace, but there are few big teams at the Dakar. Unless he brings his own funds to a team, next year he might find himself watching the Dakar on television.
Next year, I think that Robby Gordon should look for a driver who can at least keep close to him, who can look after his own equipment, and who will be prepared to sacrifice himself in order to help Gordon win should the need arise. At the same time, Gordon also has to be able to sacrifice himself, if necessary, if it appears that his team mate has a better chance of winning. I wonder if Robby Gordon has Mark Miller’s telephone number?
Red Bull’s official site is a great resource for news and updates on the entire events with photos, videos and blogs documenting the epic race. Discover all the action on and off the road and find out what’s it’s really like to be a part of this adrenaline-filled endurance challenge. Visit the site for a great roundup of the whole event.