Tourism Industry News

The Team USA FabSchool-General Tire Ford Raptor Leads Class After Stage 7 of the Dakar Rally

11/01/2011 08:56

ANTOFAGASTA, Chile,  (PRNewswire/ -- The sun's first rays spread across the protected harbor of Antofagasta, Chile, Jan. 9 as competitors prepared for the eighth leg of the 2011 Dakar Rally.  After the rest day between stages six and seven, the field had been trimmed of drivers by more than twenty-five percent. With each leg of the race, a few more vehicles crash or break, a few more motorcycle riders go down with injuries and another massive T4 truck is eliminated.

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On leg seven, from Arica to Antofagasta, teams got back to the business of racing in spite of one of the harshest deserts on the planet, the Atacama.  At 509 miles, this was the longest stage of the race, but after losing so many vehicles in leg six, organizers trimmed the Special Stage -- or dirt section -- by 155 miles.  This reduction in the daily abuse was a welcome reprieve, and most teams had completed the stage by 10:00 p.m. When the dust settled, Spanish driver Carlos Sainz remained the overall leader, followed by Al-Attiyah of Quate and Stephan Peterhansel of France.

The big news on the American front is that, of the eight U.S. teams or riders who rolled off the podium in Buenos Aires seven days ago, four are still in the competition. 

Sue Mead and Darren Skilton, piloting the FabSchool-General Tire Ford Raptor, have been working their way up from a low position of 126.  Over the course of the past seven days of racing and across nearly 3,300 miles, the duo has cut that number in half, starting in 51st position in the automotive class and 1st in their specific vehicle class. The two have been sharing driving duties, swapping as driver and navigator on alternate days.  For stage seven, they traded positions mid-day. 

"I felt really bad because I got us stuck on a sand ridge and it cost us time," said Mead. "Darren, though, is such an amazing coach and teammate.  He keeps his cool no matter what seems to be happening.  His navigation is perfect, and as a driver, Darren has a constant awareness of his surroundings and knows how far he can push the car -- and us.  We got hi-centered again later when Darren was driving.  He didn't get upset or frustrated, he just got out and dealt with it.  When it comes to racing, he is a true professional."

The two arrived at the bivouac around 9:00 p.m. Saturday and were strapping into the Raptor at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.  Stage eight will take the duo inland, back through the Atacama and 480 miles to the south. 

U.S. driver Mark Miller lost some ground on Sunday, but remains in sixth place overall in the automotive class, two-hours-and-thirteen-minutes behind the leader.  Motorcycle riders Quinn Cody and Jonah Street held on to 11th and 14th positions in the Moto Class.

You can view real-time Iritrack position updates at and follow the team on Facebook under Dakar Ford Raptor.

For media information, visit or 

For more than 90 years General Tire has offered a complete quality line of ultra-high performance, passenger, light truck, off-road and commercial tires to meet all your needs.  General Tire is a proud supporter of Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing, Chili Bowl, Pro-Pulling, Late- Model Dirt Series, Drag Boat Series, Boost Mobile Tour, Spec Tire of Trophylite and Pro Truck.  Team GT supports off-road and short course teams including BJ Baldwin, Carl Renezeder, Rick D. Johnson, Jerry Zaiden/Jason Campbell, Jason/Rich Voss, Scott Steinberger, Ed "Clyde" Stout, Ted Hunnicutt, Marc Burnett, Kent Kroeker, Mikey Childress, Carey Hart, Josh Merrell, Robby Woods and Jeff "Ox" Kargola. 

General Tire is part of Continental Tire the Americas, LLC. ( CTA, based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, is a company of Germany-based Continental AG. With sales of approximately euro 20 billion in 2009 Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently employs approximately 134,500 in 46 countries.

Chris Collard
Media Manager – 2011 Dakar Ford Raptor Team
Adventure Architects Photography
PH: 001-916-952-3630
FX: 001-916-644-6380
 SOURCE General Tire

CONTACT: Chris Collard, Media Manager - 2011 Dakar Ford Raptor Team, Adventure Architects Photography, +001-916-952-3630, FX: +001-916-644-6380

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