January 6, 2021
It’s only taken five days of racing at the 2021 Dakar Rally for all three Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team drivers to pick up a podium finish. With a stage win to celebrate and a teenage rookie inside the Top 5, let’s check in on the latest progress of the young desert racers in Saudi Arabia.
Cristina Gutiérrez stunned the Dakar bivouac and the wider world of rally racing with her dominant win on Stage One. The Spaniard and co-driver François Cazalet took the Lightweight Vehicles category by the scruff of the neck and dominated the route between Jeddah and Wadi Ad-Dawasir.
“The first day was incredible for us. This is a tough race so winning a stage is never easy.” – Cristina Gutiérrez
Among the first to congratulate Cristina on her historic achievement was Jutta Kleinschmidt, the last female to win a Dakar stage. Jutta is a firm believer that one day soon Cristina can also emulate her as an outright winner of the Dakar.
“For Cristina to go out there and win the first stage was amazing. Lots of people were surprised and afterwards everyone in the bivouac was asking about her. That stage win will help her a lot as she continues her adventures with the Dakar in the future.” – Jutta Kleinschmidt
Also impressing behind the wheel of the OT3 by Overdrive has been Dakar rookie Seth Quintero. The fearless 18-year-old blasted his way to a runners-up finish on the Prologue Stage in Jeddah. This was also one for the history books as Seth won T3 class to become the youngest class winner ever at the Dakar.
The performance on the Prologue has given Seth and co-driver Dennis Zenz a springboard to work their way through the pack and after four proper Dakar stages the duo sit fifth overall in the Lightweight Vehicles race.
“Overall, Stage Four was another good day. I’m doing my best to chip away at the drivers in front of me.” – Seth Quintero
Returning to the Dakar to race the OT3 after taking it to two stage wins last year are Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Ola Floene. The Californian racer suffered a tough Stage One, but battled through tyre trouble to bring his machine to the finish line.
Since then Mitch has been upping the pace and on Stage Four he finished third, after leading for most of the day. A podium finish in the overall may have slipped away from Mitch, but he’s determined to add to his collection of stage wins in Saudi Arabia as he continues to develop his rally-raid skills.
“We had no flat tyres and no other problems today so we just kept moving. We ended up third and tomorrow we’ll really push.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
There’s still eight stages to go at the 2021 Dakar Rally and plenty of time for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team to add to their growing reputation in the bivouac.
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2021 Dakar Rally Lightweight Vehicles Top 5 after Stage Four
1. F. LOPEZ (CHL) CAN-AM 16:38:57
2. A. DOMZALA (POL) CAN-AM +03:18
3. A. JONES (USA) CAN-AM +07:11
4. S. KARIAKIN (RUS) CAN-AM +21:39
5. S. QUINTERO (USA) OT3 +23:52
Cristina Gutiérrez: “The first day was incredible for us. This is a tough race so winning a stage is never easy. We need to get back our luck because these last few days have not been so good for us.”
“Stage Four was going very well until kilometre 176. The broke the front arm so we only had the two wheels at the back. It was impossible to pass the dunes like this. We passed 70km of dunes but then we got stuck. Nobody stopped so we had to wait for a truck to push and finish the stage like this. If we didn’t have this problem we would have been competitive on this stage.”
Jutta Kleinschmidt: “For Cristina to go out there and win the first stage was amazing. Lots of people were surprised and afterwards everyone in the bivouac was asking about her. That stage win will help her a lot as she continues her adventures with the Dakar in the future.”
“I think the Lightweight Vehicles category is a great addition to the Dakar. It gives the chance for new blood to get noticed and that is exactly what has happened with Cristina’s stage win.”
Seth Quintero: “I had really good start but then we got a flat. We’ve been unlucky with flats so far. After that I got back to pushing. At around 150km I got behind my team-mate Mitch (Guthrie) and I followed him in. It was good to be working as a team.
“There was a waypoint at the end that was tough to catch. We helped each out with that one and only ended up losing a couple minutes. Overall, Stage Four was another good day. I’m doing my best to chip away at the drivers in front of me.”
Mitch Guthrie Jr.: “I had no issues today except for right at the end when I got lost a little bit and had to backtrack. Overall I’m really happy. We had no flat tyres and no other problems today so we just kept moving. We ended up third and tomorrow we’ll really push.”
“This rally is awesome, it’s a lot of fun. Every day throws up something different for you. Even today, right at the end in the valleys, the navigation got pretty tricky. Making it to the finish line each day is a real achievement at the Dakar.”