A bruising week at Rally Kazakhstan came to a close with another yet another victory for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team to celebrate. After success in Andalucia last month, Cristina Gutiérrez made it back-to-back wins in the T3 class with victory in Kazakhstan. There were also podium finishes for the Red Bull Desert Wings squad in both the car and bike categories.
Gutiérrez has wasted no time in establishing herself as the driver to beat in the T3 division of the 2021 FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. A smooth and steady ride alongside co-driver Francois Cazalet had put Gutiérrez into the lead with one stage remaining in Kazakhstan.
The leading duo’s OT3 suffered a big impact after 30 kilometres of the final 260-kilometre stage. Gutiérrez brought her machine to the finish line to claim the win and afterwards was taken to hospital.
« Upon arrival with great pain, they decided to send me directly to the hospital, where they performed a CT scan and confirmed the rupture of two vertebrae. » – Cristina Gutiérrez
We all wish Gutiérrez a speedy recovery from her injuries.
Winning the fifth and final stage in Kazakhstan in the T3 category was Gutiérrez’s team-mate Guillaume De Mevius. With co-driver Tom Colsoul reading the roadbook, De Mevius ended an up and down week on a high as the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team racer continues to learn his craft.
« No better way to finish the week than a fastest time! It’s been an eventful week, learning so much alongside Tom Colsoul. Already looking forward to the next one. » – Guillaume De Mevius
This week Mattias Ekström and co-driver Emil Bergkvist secured their first-ever FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies car class podium. The Swedish pair bagged two second place stage results in their MINI John Cooper Works Buggy to finish third after five days of rallying.
« We found a good rhythm with the navigation on stages two and five, but had our issues on the others. I am really happy with my driving, I just need to practice in the dunes. » – Mattias Ekström
Matthias Walkner of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing secured his runner-up position in the overall standings on stage five. Happy with his speed over the course of the race, and the performance of his KTM 450 RALLY, the Austrian is now looking forward to the rest of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies season.
« Second place overall is good, but it’s a little frustrating to be just four minutes away from the win after close to 15 hours of racing. » – Matthias Walkner
Walkner’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Sam Sunderland suffered a crash just over 20km into the last stage in Kazakhstan that resulted in him being unable to continue the stage. Taken to the local hospital, scans confirmed Sunderland suffered a fractured hip and concussion. We also wish him all the best for his recovery.
In his first race as a GASGAS rider Daniel Sanders took fourth in the rally’s overall classification. Clearly a quick learner, the young Aussie overcame a tough couple of days at the beginning of the rally to turn things around and finish just shy of the podium.
« The focus now is to work on a few things before the next round so that I can start strong and be up the front from the beginning. » – Daniel Sanders
After 1,500 punishing kilometres against the clock at Rally Kazakhstan the dust has now settled. The Red Bull Desert Wings squad have put points on the board in both the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies and FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship. The next off-road adventure for the gang will be the Silk Way Rally in July.
SELECTED RALLY KAZAKHSTAN RESULTS
1. #207 – ALVAREZ L./MONLEON A., 16:03:17.0
2. #204 – KROTOV D./ZHILTSOV K., +28:25.0
3. #210 – EKSTROM M./BERGKVIST E., +35:04.0
1. #235 – GUTIERREZ C./CAZALET F., 18:12:33.0
2. #239 – ALVAREZ F./GIMENO A., +41:03.0
3. #234 – LEBEDEV P./SHUBIN K., +51:19.0
1. #16 – BRANCH R., 14:39:02.0
2. #52 – WALKNER M., +5:07.0
3. #42 – VAN BEVEREN A., +10:16.0
4. #11 – SANDERS D., +31:34.0
Cristina Gutiérrez: « Thank you very much for all the messages and your great love. We finished Rally Kazakhstan with good news and with a good scare in the body. In the first 30km of the stage we had a great impact, but we decided to continue the race. We finished the 260km and managed to win the race. Upon arrival with great pain, they decided to send me directly to the hospital, where they performed a CT scan and confirmed the rupture of two vertebrae. Second T3 win with the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team and Francois Cazalet. »
Guillaume De Mevius: « No better way to finish the week than a fastest time! It’s been an eventful week, learning so much alongside Tom Colsoul. Already looking forward to the next one. Massive shout-out to my team-mate Cristina Gutiérrez winning the overall classification in T3. »
Mattias Ekström: « We had an eventful rally. We really enjoyed the route and the countryside, and the Buggy was very good. We found a good rhythm with the navigation on stages two and five, but had our issues on the others. I am really happy with my driving, I just need to practice in the dunes. »
Matthias Walkner: « Second place overall is good, but it’s a little frustrating to be just four minutes away from the win after close to 15 hours of racing, and I know I made a couple of mistakes earlier in the race that cost me that time, but this is the nature of rallying. I’m especially happy that on the days where I was opening the stage, I was able to maintain a good pace and not lose too much time to the guys behind, so that’s really encouraging. I’m feeling good and already looking forward to Silk Way. »
Jordi Viladoms – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: « In a few weeks we have the Silk Way Rally, so it’s very important that Matthias in in a good condition and feels confident and strong. The bad news is of course Sam’s crash. It looks like it was a big one at quite a high speed, so we’re thankful his injuries are not too bad. The hope now is that he can recover quickly and return to racing with the team as fast as possible. »
Daniel Sanders: « That’s my first world championship race done, and I learned a lot this week. The focus now is to work on a few things before the next round so that I can start strong and be up the front from the beginning. »