The Dakar Rally is well underway this year, and as usual, the trucks are amazing, the motorcyclists are daredevils and the quad riders are just plain mental. The competition between the Peugeot, Toyota and Mini teams has been interesting to watch as it unfolds with some early failures and some unexpected successes. There have been the usual retirements - broken legs, wrists, arms and in some cases spectacular crashes where veteran drivers were lucky to walk away (I'm looking at you Carlos Sainz)
There is of course one welcome absence : Robby Gordon. After 12 years of utter failure, he's thrown in the towel. Some (like me) would say it's 11 years too late, but like 2016, we can bid him good riddance. Between punching his co-driver, melting down at his team, cheating (and being caught) multiple times, berating every team driver he's had, and a hundred other despicable acts, Gordon did not belong in the Dakar. A reminder of what a child he is (this was never aired on US TV):
It's cute that he thought he could place - he certainly seemed to think a win was somehow his right, but the Dakar is not the Baja 1000. The Baja is a drive in the park by comparison - something Gordon never accepted. Now he's gone, the real drivers are able to get on with the race without having to worry about a boorish American trying to ram them off the track.
The news reports from the bivouac have also suggested that things are a lot more 'back to usual' this year too. The officials and marshals are not having to put up with Gordon's incessant abuse, and the drivers and riders don't have to worry about shattering his fragile ego with the truth. There's no idiotic showboating, no crashing into spectators, no crashing into support vehicles - it's amazing how much more convivial the Dakar is now Gordon is gone. Competitor camaraderie is alive and well with drivers and riders alike stopping to help those in trouble. The Dakar is a dangerous race and it's a given that if you see someone badly in need of help, you stop and offer assistance (like the riders did with Toby Price this year). Gordon never understood that. He drove past injured drivers. He drove past (and in three cases, nearly over) stranded motorcyclists. When Nasser Al Attiyah made the mistake of being a team driver, Gordon abandoned him by the roadside. He doesn't understand team spirit. He doesn't understand camaraderie. He doesn't understand the spirit of cooperation. In Robby Gordon's book there's only one person that matters - himself - and that attitude is neither safe nor welcome in the Dakar Rally.
So long Gordon, and don't ever come back.