A bruising season of rally-raid gets back into gear this week at Rallye du Maroc and the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team are targeting more precious championship points. Two race victories and multiple stage wins have made this a memorable year so far for the young squad, but in rally-raid success is rarely pain-free.
Driving for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team at the North African rally will be Cristina Gutiérrez and Seth Quintero. The duo will be sharing their custom-built OT3 race vehicles with co-drivers François Cazalet and Dennis Zenz respectively.
What a year it has been so far for Gutiérrez. In January she became the first female stage winner at the Dakar Rally for over 15 years. This result was followed by wins at the Andalucia Rally and Rally Kazakhstan.
« My ambition for Rallye du Maroc is to score enough points to continue leading the championship. For me it would be a dream come true to maintain our lead until the end of the season. » – Cristina Gutiérrez
However, it’s not all been plain sailing for the Spaniard. Gutiérrez fractured two vertebrae while on her way to victory in Kazakhstan and had to spend the next two months recovering from her injuries. Among the first to commend Gutiérrez for her bravery was team-mate Guillaume De Mevius who raced alongside her in Kazakhstan.
Gutiérrez now returns to the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies after making her racing comeback with the Extreme E series in August. The Spanish speedster tops the T3 classification in World Cup rankings and will be out to protect – and if possible increase – her lead in Morocco.
« Always my clear objective was to be in Morocco. I’m very happy to now be recovered from my injuries. » – Cristina Gutiérrez
There was also slice of history made at the 2021 Dakar by Quintero, as the then 18-year-old became the rally’s youngest-ever stage winner. Having celebrated his 19th birthday last month, Quintero has even bigger ambitions for his return to Saudi Arabia in January.
Alongside his preparation for the next edition of the Dakar, Quintero has been racing this year’s Best in the Desert in his native United States alongside team-mate Mitch Guthrie Jr. Quintero is well on his way to becoming the most well-rounded off-road racer on the planet.
« This trip’s gonna be a good one! Can’t wait to show y’all what’s going down. » – Seth Quintero
Get the racing line on how Seth Quintero preps his race car here
The race crews of Gutiérrez/Cazalet and Quintero/Zenz will be competing in the 2021-spec OT3 in Morocco. Meanwhile, parallel work is being done elsewhere by the crews of Guthrie Jr./Ola Fløene and De Mevius/Tom Colsoul to prepare the team’s 2022-spec race vehicle ahead of the next Dakar.
Racing gets underway for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team on Friday, October 8 when Rallye du Maroc kicks off with a 10km prologue stage. Then comes five consecutive days of long desert stages featuring technical, fast and sandy tracks mixed with dunes and navigation. If Gutiérrez and Quintero are to make it onto the final podium on Wednesday, October 13 they will have to master a total route of over 2,500 kilometres.
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2021 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies – T3 category
1. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) 58 points
2. Fernando Alvarez (ESP) 37.5 points
3. Jose Luis Peña (ESP) 25.5 points
Cristina Gutiérrez: « Going back to competing in rally-raid makes me very happy because it has been a very long summer of recovery. I had to spend many hours a day with physio work and in the gym. Always my clear objective was to be in Morocco. I’m very happy to now be recovered from my injuries.
« My ambition for Rallye du Maroc is to score enough points to continue leading the championship. For me it would be a dream come true to maintain our lead until the end of the season. After having won the first two races it is important to continue scoring points, despite all the difficulties we have had. »