4 French citizens were killed by Al Queda in Africa Dec 24. The local governenments pledged more security then the French Government advised citizens not to attend the race due to specific threats against the race. They cancelled the race the day prior. Robby Gordon says he is out $4.5M and the organizers will only refund his $360,000 entry fee.
Dakar race cancellation, lost money, angers Robby Gordon: #7-Robby Gordon arrived for testing at Daytona International Speedway on Monday with a pack on his back and a chip on his shoulder. Gordon had planned to skip the three-day test for his Sprint Cup team to drive in the Dakar Rally in North Africa. Those plans changed on Friday when organizers canceled the event because of the Dec. 24 slayings of French tourists in Mauritania -- where eight of the 15 stages were scheduled to be held and -- and direct threats of terrorism from al-Quida-linked militants. Gordon said he was upset because the Amaury Sports Organization that puts on the rally had no backup plan for a race that he estimated cost Robby Gordon Motorsports out of California $4.5 million to prepare two cars to send overseas with full crews. "They did not have a plan," Gordon said as he shook his head in disbelief. "That's the part I'm mad about. Cancel the race for safety. I'm with you. Good. But there was no reason to cancel the whole entire event with 16 days or racing. We could have run Martinsville or a couple of specials. Us racers, we like to race. Just get creative. They're right there in Portugal [where] they have a Formula One track down the street. Get creative. Do something to keep the show in place. I can't believe they gave up that easy." It was the first time the 30-year-old event, one of the biggest competitions in automobile racing, was canceled. Gordon said the ASO has promised to pay back the $360,000 entry fee, but he's not sure how he will recoup other losses for his team and sponsors. Officials with the ASO could not be reached for comment. Gordon heard of the cancellation less than an hour before the race was to begin.(ESPN.com)(1-8-2008)
Dakar Race Cancelled: The annual Dakar Rally was canceled Friday on the eve of the race because of terror threats and the recent slaying of a French family in Mauritania blamed on al-Qaida-linked militants. It was the first time in the 30-year history of the automobile, motorcycle and truck race across the Sahara Desert that it has been called off. In a statement, organizers blamed international tensions, the tourists' Dec. 24 murders and "threats launched directly against the race by terrorist organizations."
"No other decision but the cancellation of the sporting event could be taken," they said. France, where the race organizers are based, had urged the rally to avoid Mauritania after the slaying of the four family members in an attack blamed on a terror cell that uses the Mauritanian desert as a hideout. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner "hailed the organizers' courage and wisdom" in calling off the rally, said a spokeswoman for his ministry, Pascale Andreani. The race, organized by the France-based Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), had been due to start in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday and finish in Dakar, Senegal, on Jan. 20. Eight of the stages had been set to take place in Mauritania. Some 550 car, truck and motorcycle drivers were expected for the 5,760-mile trek. The race's central appeal -- its course through African deserts, scrubland and savannas -- is also a weak point for security, making it difficult to protect thousands of people as they traverse such remote regions.(AP/ESPN.com/Dakar.com/Robbygordon.com), Sprint Cup driver, #7-Robby Gordon had been scheduled to run the race, and will test at Daytona in the first session, scheduled for Jan 7-9th, Brendan Gaughan was to sub for Gordon.(1-4-2008)