Red Bull Desert Wings make perfect start to FIA World Cup season at Rally Andalucia
The Red Bull Desert Wings squad have claimed victories across multiple categories at the opening round of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country-Rallies. The first stop of the new season took place at Rally Andalucia and witnessed standout performances by drivers targeting World Cup and Dakar glory during this campaign.
Defending their Rally Andalucia title were Qatari ace Nasser Al-Attiyah and his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel. The duo’s Toyota Hilux roared away from the start line to win the prologue and the opening stage, establishing a lead that they held until the chequered flag flew in Spain.
“We had fun this week and to get another win here feels great.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Claiming a T1 car class runners-up result on home soil was three-time Dakar winner Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard was behind the wheel of a 4×4 MINI John Cooper Works Rally car in Andalucia, alongside his countryman and co-driver Lucas Cruz. Sainz and Cruz showed their customary coolness under pressure while pushing Al-Attiyah and Baumel all the way.
“I’m feeling very satisfied with our work here during four long and tough days.” – Carlos Sainz
Also behind the wheel of MINI Rally car at Rally Andalucia was Laia Sanz. This was Sanz’s first rally-raid in the car class after finishing the last 11 editions of the Dakar as the top placed female biker. Despite a tricky prologue, Sanz and fellow Spaniard Dani Oliveras showed great speed over the 1,000 kilometres of timed special stages to place 7th overall.
“I think I’ve improved a lot as a driver this week. I feel a big difference between the first stage and today.” – Laia Sanz
Another car class rally-raid debut was made by former DTM and WRX champion Mattias Ekström. After taking on his first Dakar earlier this year in a Yamaha YXZ1000R side-by-side machine, Ekström and his compatriot Emil Bergkvist stepped up to the T1 category in Spain. In the hot seat of a MINI John Cooper Works Buggy, the Swede scored himself a Top 5 result in the T1 race.
“We have been learning this week how to tune all the small things; the tyre pressure, the suspension, the fuel loads and so on.” – Mattias Ekström
The T3 race at Rally Andalucia was absolutely dominated by the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team. The young squad not only set the fastest time in their class throughout the rally, but also were able to run their OT3 alongside the quickest T1 machines. There were stage wins for newcomer Guillaume de Mevius as well as 18-year-old Seth Quintero. Also playing his part in a successful week for the Junior Team was Mitch Guthrie Jr.
“It looks like we ended up getting the win in T3 today by a few minutes. We were also the third or fourth car overall.” – Seth Quintero
The first ever overall win for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team was claimed by Cristina Gutiérrez. The Spanish native and her French co-driver Francois Cazalet showed consistent pace to place in the Top 3 in their class on every stage of Rally Andalucia.
“Finally we have won our category and it feels incredible. I hope we can do it again in the next race.” – Cristina Gutiérrez
Gutiérrez’s remarkable speed at the wheel of the OT3 saw her finish between the T1 machines of Ekström and Sanz in the final overall times. The win puts Gutiérrez top of the T3 standings of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country-Rallies.
Rally Andalucia was round one of the seven round 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country-Rallies. Next up is Rally Kazakhstan which takes place June 7-13.
Rally Andalucia Final FIA Classification
1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT)/M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota 10h22m49s
2. C. Sainz (ESP)/L. Cruz (ESP) MINI +43s
3. Y. Al Rajhi (SAU)/D. Von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota +11m26s
4. E. Van Loon (NLD)/S. Delaunay (FRA) Toyota +22m37s
5. M. Ekström (SWE)/E. Bergkvist (SWE) MINI +31m14s
*6. C. Gutiérrez (ESP)/F. Cazalet (FRA) OT3 +45m10s
7. L. Sanz (ESP)/D. Oliveras (ESP) MINI +49m43s
*C. Gutiérrez (ESP)/F. Cazalet (FRA) win T3 category
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We had fun this week and to get another win here feels great. We enjoyed the landscape and also fighting with our rivals. From the very start we were here to defend our title from last year. Carlos is one of the best drivers out there so it’s always good to have the chance to race against him.”
Carlos Sainz: “I’m feeling very satisfied with our work here during four long and tough days. It’s always a pleasure to race in Spain. We had to adapt to the 4×4 car we had and we worked hard to do our best. I’m also very pleased for my team-mate Laia Sanz who was able to showcase her driving abilities at this rally.”
Laia Sanz: “I feel we did a good job. The positive thing is that we were able to do a lot of kilometres and also that we kept the car in one piece. I think I’ve improved a lot as a driver this week. I feel a big difference between the first stage and today. I’ve learned a lot here this week. I know I can still improve so I’m looking forward to getting more chances to race.”
Mattias Ekström: “It was a very exciting rally. For us the last day was the best day. The car was feeling really good. We have been learning this week how to tune all the small things; the tyre pressure, the suspension, the fuel loads and so on. In the end I’m super happy to be here after a lot of kilometres.”
Cristina Gutiérrez: “I’m so happy to be here at the finish line and it’s really nice to share this moment with all the team. Finally we have won our category and it feels incredible. I hope we can do it again in the next race. The final stage was very stressful. I was pushing and pushing to get this win.”
Seth Quintero: “Today went really well. We started off really strong before a little mistake about 30km into the stage that cost us a minute or two. After that we just tried to charge on from there. It looks like we ended up getting the win in T3 today by a few minutes. We were also the third or fourth car overall. We’ll be back next year to contend for the win.”