It’s a huge weekend for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team as all three drivers prepare to pitch their skills on both sides of the USA’s southern border. Blade Hildebrand will race the Baja 500 in Mexico while Mitch Guthrie Jr. and Seth Quintero will tackle the National Desert Cup in San Bernardino, California.
With significant BioSecurity Protocols in place the green light has been given for the 52nd SCORE Baja 500 to take place on September 26-27. It’s the first race in the SCORE Baja series to be held since last November. The other big news down in Mexico is that the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team’s OT3 machine has arrived in North America for the first time and will make its continental debut at the Baja 500.
« To say I’m excited to race is an understatement. Flying the OT3 over and having it here for a race in North America is something that’s been a long time in coming. » – Blade Hildebrand
Blade Hildebrand’s fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team members Mitch Guthrie Jr. and Seth Quintero will also be in action this weekend as they compete at the Jagged X National Desert Cup in California. Mitch and Seth will race a pair of Polaris machines as they pursue further Best in the Desert points in the United States.
« This race is huge. It’s going to set the stage for the final race of the year. » – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
In the last round of the Best in the Desert series there was a P1 result for Seth (Pro National Class) and a P2 for Mitch (Pro-Turbo Class) at the 500-mile Vegas to Reno Off-Road Race.
« I need to do well at this race to go into the last round with confidence and less stress. » – Seth Quintero
Meanwhile Blade will be at the controls of his OT3 in Mexico. With Baja experience as well as plenty of Dakar Rally success already under his belt, Blade is the perfect candidate to introduce this unique rally-raid machine to North American-style racing.
The OT3 by Overdrive and the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team were both introduced to the world at the 2020 Dakar Rally. In Saudi Arabia the team drove the OT3 to fastest times in the side-by-side (SxS) category in half of the Dakar’s 12 stages. Blade was a huge part of that success alongside Mitch and Cyril Despres who acted as mentor to the pair. There’s also a stack of wins in his native North America for Blade to build upon and his next target is the UTV Pro Unlimited category at the 2020 Baja 500.
« The Baja 500 is longer than a normal Dakar stage but with the same intensity, you have to find that pace and keep it at 100 percent the entire time. » – Blade Hildebrand
The 52nd edition of the Baja 500 features an ultra-tough 493-mile course that runs both north and south of San Felipe in a counterclockwise direction on the east side of the Baja California peninsula. The route involves high-speed dirt trails, sandy, rocky and silty natural terrain, dry lake beds, majestic Baja washes and canyons plus stretches along the ocean with elevations from sea level to over 3,000 feet. The racing promises to be spectacular and everything the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team could wish for as the OT3 announces itself to North America.
The Red Bull Off-Road Team USA will also be looking to secure winning results at the Jagged X National Desert Cup when Mitch and Seth rev up for action this weekend. Seth is out to defend his Best in the Desert Pro National Class overall title from last year while Mitch looks to retain his Pro-Turbo Class series crown.
« I am leading the points right now but the point margin between me second and third is pretty close. » – Seth Quintero
Blade Hildebrand: « Prepping for the 500 is hectic. This is only my second Baja 500 that I’ve done down here, but every time it seems to have a last-minute feel about it. We had an extra challenge that none of the other teams had – we had to fly a race car all the way over from Europe. But this is a team that always makes it happen!
« The Baja 500 is a different kind of race. At 500 miles it’s longer than a normal Dakar stage but with the same intensity, you have to find that pace and keep it at 100 percent the entire time. Just like the Baja 1000 and the Baja 250, this one is super rough with so many types of terrain to battle.
« Flying the OT3 over and having it here for a race in North America is something that’s been a long time in coming. Now it’s finally here and we can prove that a rally-raid car with 32-inch tyres and adjusted suspension geometry can come and compete in North America.
« Right off the bat you look at the car and the body of the OT3. The body is completely different from anything else you see racing in North America. It has that aerodynamic look to it. Even the rims are little to different to others that you see after KMC made us these forged rims to use in the Baja 500.
« To say I’m excited to race is an understatement. This has been a long time coming and I’m ready for race day. What I’m most looking forward too is seeing that chequered flag at the finish and having everyone there. Then we’ll know that we finally did it. Hopefully we’re celebrating a first place! »
Mitch Guthrie Jr.: « This race is huge. It’s going to set the stage for the final race of the year. What happens in this race will show us where we are going to stack up going into the last one so we are going to try and set ourselves up in a good position. You never know what can happen, right now we’re sitting 2nd in points. All it takes is one race and that can change. All we are going to do is go give it our 100 percent going for that win and we will see where we end up.
« This upcoming race is completely different from the style of desert racing we are used to. We have raced plenty of times in Laughlin which is more of a short course/desert type of race… but this race being held in Glen Helen is going to be full on short course racing. With the different tracks, tight trails, land rush start etc. It’s going to make for some interesting racing in our big desert cars but in the end I’m excited for something different. »
Seth Quintero: « This upcoming race at the Desert National means a lot for me. It’s quite the different setup because we race two days in a row but for a short period of time, short course style. I am leading the points right now but the point margin between me, second and third is pretty close. I need to do well at this race to go into the last round with confidence and less stress.
« This upcoming Best in the Desert race is something that none of us have seen. It is a short course style format and puts us on Lucas Oil tracks, WORCS-style short course tracks, with a little bit of desert thrown in between. I am very excited to see how we will do! »