Day Two in the Atacama Desert was shortened by 125 miles because of difficult terrain, but that didn't stifle the leaders in the car class. NASCAR star Robby Gordon, right, recorded his best result of the event, finishing second in his Hummer, a mere 21 seconds behind stage winner Carlos Sainz (Volkswagen).
Gordon was actually the provisional leader through two check points, but finally gave way to Sainz in the final segment of the special. American Mark Miller finished third in his Volkswagen, 7:39 behind his teammate.
"We had a good day," Gordon told dakar.com. "We managed to have a problem-free stage that will have no consequence. We caught up with Miller around CP2. I remained pretty careful on the bumps on the way back. We are just loosing about 20 seconds, so it’s meaningless. As soon as we are on faster trails, they (the Volkswagen) shake us off. They have so much more power than we do!"
It was Sainz's fourth consecutive stage win and sixth in the 2009 Dakar Rally. The victory allowed Sainz to extend his overall lead over second-place Miller to 27:31. South Africa's Giniel de Villiers rounds out an all-VW top three in the overall standings, with Mitsubishi's Nani Roma in fourth and Gordon still in fifth, but 1 hour, 34 minutes, 38 seconds back.
The top five will remain such after Wednesday, as Dakar Rally officials announced late Tuesday that Stage 11 is canceled because of heavy fog forecast on the route over the San Francisco Pass at 15,400 feet through the Andes. The competitors will travel to Fiambala, Argentina, as a group. Read more here.
In motorbikes on Tuesday, overall leader Marc Coma of Spain and France's Cyril Despres each made navigational errors, but recovered to finish in the top 10. Coma was was seventh and now holds a lead of 1:24:50 over France's David Fretigne, who finished 15th Tuesday. Despres finished sixth, but remains third overall, more than 90 minutes behind Coma. Jordi Viladons of Spain won the stage, followed by France's Alain Duclos and Pals Ullevalseter.
Spanish rider Cristobal Guerrero was involved in an accident Tuesday and was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Copiapo, Chile. The Associated Press reported that hospital director Dr. Anita Quiroga said surgeons drained fluid from Guerrero's brain. The rider was stabilized, but Quiroga called the next 24 hours “crucial to determine his prospects.”
Go here for more news, complete results and standings.
-- Michele Vincze
Photo: The Associated Press