With Eric Vigouroux and Pro-System Racing
With 2006 barely three weeks old, General Motors got a good jump start in the season by supporting two entries in what is considered to be the most grueling off-road race in the world – the Dakar Rally. The result was a win in the
Open Score Category and some lessons learned for future endurance races.
Led by driver Eric Vigouroux, a Chevy Silverado equipped with a Corvette LS6 engine found itself among the top 10 during the final four stages of the race while competing against talented Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and BMW competitors. The smaller Pro-Systems Racing team fought hard in every stage during the two-week event and was eventually rewarded on Jan. 15 with a victory in the Open Score category.
“The Chevy Silverado was brand new, and behaved brilliantly,” Vigouroux said. “It turned out to be extremely reliable and efficient on all of the surfaces that we faced - rocks, sand, dirt and dunes.”
Vigouroux, co-pilot Alex Winocq and the Pro-System Racing team achieved all three of the goals they established prior to the race - making it to Dakar, getting the best performance out of their Chevy Silverado and most notably winning an important category of the race.
“All of this gratification has touched us deeply, and I would like to share it with the GM Racing team and all of my sponsors,” Vigouroux added. “We hope to be present again for the next edition in 2007, and if possible with greater means in order to achieve our new performance goals and improve our regularity to reach the best place possible overall.”
In addition to the Chevy Silverado, Robby Gordon drove a HUMMER H3 in this year's 6,000 mile race from Lisbon, Portugal to Dakar. The event marked the debut of the HUMMER in Dakar competition while Gordon competed for the first time as a team owner and driver. It was his second attempt as a driver.
During the early stages of the race, Gordon and his team were running as high as fifth after starting 35th.
“We were very good on stage three,” said Gordon. “We came in fifth…Then the next day we had a great run and finished 11th after passing about 75 cars. The next day was another good stage where we finished seventh.”
Unfortunately, Gordon's hopes to win his first Dakar faded during a stretch between Zouerat and Atar, Mauritania. Gordon came over a dune and landed in an unexpected section of camel grass which punctured the radiator of his H3. Gordon and his team were not deterred and pursued every avenue to make the necessary repairs. Despite replacing the radiator, the team was unable to start the next stage on time and was eventually disqualified.
Despite the disqualification, Gordon is already preparing for the 2007 Dakar with four pages of plans and more off-road competition on the agenda.
"A car like this is really an eight-month project," said Gordon. "But we got it built in just four months. And now it's finished, and we only have to optimize it….So we're going to start now and have nine months to prepare for the next Dakar.
“We'll run it again in the Baja 500 (in June), and we'll run it next weekend, just try to get some miles on it. We need to run it some right now, because once we get into the heart of the NASCAR schedule it will be hard to find time for testing.”
“It's a very, very difficult race,” Gordon continued. “I wouldn't put it in the same class as a Daytona 500 or anything. It's like running 16 12 Hours of Sebrings back-to-back-to back and rebuilding the car every night to get ready for the next race. By far it's the most physically and mentally challenging race in the world.”
Press Release General Motors