Youngster Seth Quintero scores podium for Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team on blistering Dakar debut

Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (ESP) Mitchell Guthrie (USA) Seth Quintero (USA) for RedBull off-road team USA during shakedown of Rally Dakar 2021 Djeddah, Saudi Arabia on JDecember 31, 2021. // Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool // SI202101010003 // Usage for editorial use only //

The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team showed plenty of speed over the first competitive kilometres of the 2021 Dakar Rally. The squad claimed a podium place in the Lightweight Vehicles category as today’s 11-kilometre prologue served as a preview of what is to come over the next two weeks.

Seth Quintero © Red Bull

Seth Quintero’s frustration at being too young to race in Saudi Arabia last year has given him extra motivation to make the most of his Dakar debut. The 18-year-old put in a faultless performance on the opening day of the 2021 Dakar to take second place on the prologue, missing out on the stage win by just two seconds.

« We’re done with the prologue, technically the first stage, and we had a really good run. » – Seth Quintero

A serial Best in the Desert championship winner back home in the States, the teenager is now out to prove his speed at this truly global event. It’s also a first-ever Dakar for Quintero’s co-driver Denis Zenz.

Mitch Guthrie ® Red Bull

Mitch Guthrie Jr. got his 2021 Dakar started with a solid prologue, finishing just 10 seconds back from race leader Kris Meeke. Over today’s distance the team’s OT3 machine was able to match and exceed the pace of not only other T3 machines in the race, but also T4 SSVs. The early signs are there for a fascinating contest in the new Lightweight Vehicles category that merges both T3s and T4s into one competition.

« The car is amazing, zero issues with it. We’re ready for tomorrow. » – Mitch Guthrie Jr.

Guthrie Jr. has been looking forward to coming back to Saudi Arabia since getting his first taste of the Dakar last year. An impressive Dakar debut alongside co-driver Ola Floene saw the duo collect a pair of stage wins. This ambitious crew are aiming for even greater things this time around.

Cristina Gutierrez © Red Bull

After finishing four Dakars in the Car category, Cristina Gutiérrez is trying her hand at the Lightweight Vehicles division. The Spaniard has adapted quickly to her new machine and finished the prologue inside the Top 15.

« I felt very comfortable with the car and the pace notes from François. » – Cristina Gutiérrez

On her debut Dakar Gutiérrez came home as the fifth fastest rookie in the Car race and aims to have a similar impact on her new category. Reading the roadbook for Gutiérrez in Saudi Arabia is François Cazalet.

Cristina Gutierrez and François Cazsalet © Flavien Duhamel

Tomorrow sees the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team tackle stage one of the 2021 Dakar Rally as they travel from Jeddah to Bisha. In addition to a 345-kilometre liaison section there’s a punishing 277-kilometre timed special stage. Fast tracks with loose stones carry the threat of punctures while navigational challenges will keep the co-drivers on their toes.

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2021 Dakar Rally Lightweight Vehicles selected results after Prologue Stage
1. K.Meeke – PH-Sport, 00:06:40
2. S.Quintero – OT3 – +00:02
3. A. Jones – CAN-AM, +00:03…
7. M. Guthrie – OT3, +00:10…
14. C. Gutierrez – OT3, +00:21…

Seth Quintero © Flavien Duhamel

Select Quotes
Seth Quintero: « We’re done with the prologue, technically the first stage, and we had a really good run. It looks like we’re sitting second. We ran a nice, smooth pace. I was a little timid because it was the first run in the new car. Everything felt good and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. »

Mitch Guthrie Jr.: « We set out to be safe and not have any issues, but we also wanted to go fast. This is exactly what we did. I’m not sure where this puts us in the rankings, but more importantly we’re happy with driving and navigation. The car is amazing, zero issues with it. We’re ready for tomorrow. »

Cristina Gutiérrez: « The first stage was very good for me. I tried to adapt to the car and my co-driver François (Cazalet). I felt very comfortable with the car and the pace notes from François. This was a good way to get started at this Dakar. »

Christine Fial,