Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team set sights on finish line at punishing 2021 Dakar Rally

Seth Quintero (USA) for RedBull off-road team USA races during stage 10 of Rally Dakar 2021 from Neom to Alula, Saudi Arabia on January 13, 2021. // Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool // SI202101130085 // Usage for editorial use only //

The first 10 stages of the 2021 Dakar Rally have already given the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team plenty to celebrate. Now the team are heading into the final two stages determined to finish off the drive in style.

18-year-old Seth Quintero has had a wild ride so far at his debut Dakar. The highs and lows were amplified on a dramatic Stage Nine. During the stage Seth hit the front of the Lightweight Vehicles general classification. The bivouac was buzzing, would the rookie be the youngest ever champion at the Dakar as well as the rally’s youngest stage winner? Then gearbox trouble struck the OT3 of Seth and co-driver Dennis Zenz. It would take them another 10 hours to come back to the bivouac.

« Yesterday was rough. It started off really well, leading the stage and taking over the overall. As soon as all that happened, we had the gearbox let go. We had to get towed back by a T5 truck for the last 300km in the dust. We ended up getting lost, the T5 got a flat and got stuck. I lost an upper A-arm, lost a wheel. It was crazy. » – Seth Quintero

The team got Seth’s OT3 over the finish line in time for him to remain in the race. The crew of mechanics and engineers got to work at 4.30am and had the machine ready to race a few short hours later.

« I got back to the bivouac about 4.30 this morning. The boys got to work getting the car going. Just two minutes before it was my time to leave for today’s stage they said, « Get in the car and get out of here! » Then we brought it to the end of Stage 10. Tomorrow I’ll be all rested up with some food in me and we’ll charge for that win. » – Seth Quintero

Cristina Gutierrez and François Cazalet

Racing alongside Seth and Dennis on Stage 10 were team-mates Cristina Gutiérrez and Francois Cazalet. The duo were prevented from taking the start of Stage Eight due to gearbox trouble of their own. Since rejoining the race in the Dakar Experience, the pair have picked up the pace and are determined to finish their rally on high.

« The Dakar is the toughest race in the world, that’s why we keep coming back. You have days when everything goes your way and other days when you don’t get the breaks. On the liaison section before Stage Eight our gearbox broke. Since then we’ve been racing the Dakar Experience with the intention of making the most of this opportunity. » – Cristina Gutiérrez

On Stage One of the 2021 Dakar Rally history was made by Cristina when she became the first female stage winner since Jutta Kleinschmidt’s last stage win in 2005.

Mitch Guthrie © Red Bull.

« I was with Seth the morning after his gearbox issue and got to have a little word with him. I’m trying to help out as much as I can. I got up early and saw how his car was doing. I drove it around a little bit to check it was dialled in. The guys got it finished in time, that was an awesome job. Seth got up and headed straight out. » – Mitch Guthrie Jr.

Seth and Cristina head into the final two stages of the Dakar having both already won a stage of the Lightweight Vehicles race. Their aim is to taste victory one last time before this year’s Dakar adventure finishes in Jeddah on Friday.

Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Ola Floene, the third Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team crew, exited the rally before Stage Six due to an issue with engine oil pressure. Since then Mitch – a two-time Dakar stage winner in 2020 – has been on hand to help the team in the bivouac.

Select Quotes
Seth Quintero: « Yesterday was rough. It started off really well, leading the stage and taking over the overall. As soon as all that happened, we had the gearbox let go. We had to get towed back by a T5 truck for the last 300km in the dust. We ended up getting lost, the T5 got a flat and stuck. I lost an upper A-arm, lost a wheel. It was crazy. By the end of it we only had about 20 minutes to get across the finish line or else we were going to get put into the Dakar Experience. I really wanted to fully get that finish and somehow we got it done.
« I got back to the bivouac about 4.30 this morning. The boys got to work getting the car going. Just two minutes before it was my time to leave for today’s stage they said, ‘Get in the car and get out of here!’ We really tried to put it in survival mode today. We got three flats, so it was real survival mode out there. We got to the end. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be all rested up with some food in me and we’ll charge for that win. »

Cristina Gutiérrez: « The Dakar is the toughest race in the world, that’s why we keep coming back. You have days when everything goes your way and other days when you don’t get the breaks. On the liaison section before Stage Eight our gearbox broke. Since then we’ve been racing the Dakar Experience with the intention of making the most of this opportunity.
« Stage 10 today was very beautiful. Yesterday was a very hard day for me because we started at the back of the race. We overtook 37 cars and it was difficult. Today I enjoyed a lot, Francois was great with the navigation and it was a very good day. »

Mitch Guthrie Jr.: « Yesterday when Seth had his gearbox issue it was a super wild day, not just for our team but everyone seemed to have a rough day. It’s a bummer that Seth’s been taken out of the fight for the overall. At the same time it was cool to see them push on and arrive back at the bivouac. We were all waiting, waiting, waiting and their arrival kept getting pushed back later and later.
« I saw Seth the next morning and got to have a little word with him. I’m trying to help out as much as I can. I got up early and saw how his car was doing. I drove it around a little bit to check it was dialled in. The guys got it finished in time, that was an awesome job. Seth got up and headed straight out. »

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