21-year-old Seth Quintero joins Lucas Moraes in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s lineup for 2024 Dakar Rally

21-year-old Seth Quintero has joined TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to tackle the 2024 Dakar Rally in the elite T1+ car class. The young American has been handed the keys to a Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ as the Japanese team aims for a third consecutive victory at the Dakar. Also in the saddle for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will be Lucas Moraes, the surprise package of the last Dakar who parked on the final podium in his rookie year.

The driving talents of Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team graduate Quintero and Brazilian racer Moraes combined with the desert racing knowhow of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing are a mouthwatering proposition for the upcoming Dakar. The legendary Japanese manufacturer has won the past two T1+ races at the Dakar. Joining this well-oiled winning machine gives Quintero and Moraes the best possible platform for success.

« I’m addicted to progression, obsessed by it, and this step up to T1+ is all I’ve been thinking about for a while. » – Seth Quintero

Quintero secured his shot behind the wheel of a 3.5-litre V6 twin turbo Hilux by winning this year’s World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) T3 title alongside co-driver Dennis Zenz. Now the Californian racer steps up from the T3 division to face-off against legends in the T1+ class at the Dakar.

« I always had raw speed over short stints, but now I’ve learned to hang on for two weeks at a time. » – Seth Quintero

Quintero will race his Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ car for the first time this weekend at the Dubai International Baja (Nov 10–12). Then comes the Dakar Rally (Jan 5–19).

Teaming up with Quintero to drive for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at the 2024 Dakar will be Lucas Moraes. The 32-year-old Brazilian driver was a revelation at the last Dakar when he finished third in his rookie year. Victories at the Rally dos Sertões in his native Brazil had already marked out Moraes as a special talent in his homeland. He delivered on this promise as a privateer with Overdrive Racing on his Dakar debut when he became the first Brazilian to finish the rally on the T1+ podium.

« My first Dakar experience was tricky because I was learning about strategy on the fly. » – Lucas Moraes

Now Moraes and co-driver Armand Monleon will represent reigning Dakar champions TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at the next edition of the rally. Moraes can’t wait to show the world what he can do at the controls of the fearsome official Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+.

« To be honest it’s really a dream come true for every driver to join a Dakar team like TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. » – Lucas Moraes

Quintero and Zenz were part of the first intake of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team program. The first-ever global talent search for the off-road stars of the future was launched ahead of the 2020 Dakar with the goal of promoting the next generation to the top class. In four short years the program has already delivered a crop of young, hungry and talented drivers such as Cristina Gutiérrez and Mitch Guthrie Jr. to the cusp of competing in the Dakar’s premier class.

The Junior Team program places drivers and co-drivers in the T3 and T4 categories, providing them with a professional platform to compete at a worldwide calendar of iconic races. The program’s most recent successes include a dominant 1-2-3 result in the T3 class of this year’s Dakar, plus a locked out podium in the 2023 W2RC led home by Quintero.

« This whole year was one wild fight. I just kept my head down for every single kilometre, even when the kitchen sink was being thrown. » – Seth Quintero

The ultimate goal of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team is to see young drivers graduate to the Dakar’s T1+ race. Following Seth stepping up to the big leagues in 2024, fellow Junior Team driver Gutiérrez will join Dacia to compete in the T1+ class at the 2025 Dakar. Further evidence of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team providing a pathway for tomorrow’s generation of talented drivers.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing are also backing youth as they aim to buck the trend of veteran drivers winning the Dakar with their fresh-faced line-up for 2024. Moraes became the first driver under 40 years old to park on the Dakar’s car race podium for over a decade last year. In fact, only three drivers under 40 have won the Dakar in the past three decades. If Quintero wins in 2024 he will be the T1+ division’s youngest-ever winner and its first winner from the United States.

« This next Dakar will be a great race, our young team up against the older guys. I think we can do something special. » – Lucas Moraes

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing wrapped up 2023 with titles in the World Rally-Raid Championship, World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship. Success on four wheels is part of the team’s DNA.

Not that anything will be easy at the 2024 Dakar, starting from Saudi Arabia’s thousand-year old city of Al-Ula on January 5. The entire convoy of competitors will be plunged into a fog of exhaustion for a fortnight with daily stage distances of up to 500km across inhospitable terrain before the chequered flag flies in Yanbu on January 19. Follow the progress of Quintero, Moraes and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at the Dakar with us right here.

Seth Quintero: « It’s been a very fun road to get to this point. From 2020 to now we’ve made some drastic changes. I’ve got older and raced a lot of different cars. This year was a really good year for us. We ended up winning the T3 world championship, plus some rallies and also a lot of stage wins. When I got the call to race the next Dakar with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing that was something I couldn’t turn down.
« I’ve been working so hard for so long, I’ve been racing since I was 10 years old. It’s been a long road to get here, I’ve been doing rally for quite a while now. Getting to the T1+ class has always been the dream. Toyota had given me a few opportunities here and there to test drive with them. It was two years ago that I first got to drive the Hilux and since then it’s definitely been the goal for me. When I finally got the phone call it was kind of weird, at first I was sat there in silence… then I fully freaked out! It’s going to be a wild adventure and we’re ready for it.
« In Morocco we had the rookie test and I got to do two 20-kilometre loops. Immediately we felt right at home in car. Compared with T3, obviously the speed is different, the weight is different and ton of other stuff. But, it’s all dirt in the end and it’s going to be a lot of fun. »

Lucas Moraes: « To be honest it’s really a dream come true for every driver to join a Dakar team like TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. To be here ready to perform at the highest level is everything I could wish for. It’s nice to be a little younger than most of the other drivers and I’m grateful to the team for providing an opportunity for the new generation to show up.
« We still have legends in the rally and they are still driving really, really fast. I think the type of racing that we do at the Dakar requires experience. This next Dakar will be a great race, our young team up against the older guys. I think we can do something special.
« My first Dakar experience was tricky because I was learning about strategy on the fly. At the Dakar we’re always looking at the overall picture, day by day you need to analyze how the race is going and use that information to determine your strategy. As drivers it’s important that we cooperate and grow the spirit within our new team, but when we put the helmet on we’re competitors and we’ll do what we can to win. »

Christine Fial,