Dakar 2024: Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team set up to come out swinging for the second half of 2024 Dakar Rally

Dakar 2024: Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team set up to come out swinging for the second half of 2024 Dakar Rally

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The first week of the 2024 Dakar Rally has been jam-packed with dunes, dust and plenty of new experiences for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team. Seth Quintero has stepped up to the Ultimate car class where he is trading blows with Dakar legends. In the Challenger class the Juniors hold the lead plus three more spots in the overall Top 5 heading into the second week of the rally.

First week at Dakar: The Juniors make their mark on the dunes

The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team joined the Dakar convoy sleeping out in the desert during the first week’s pair of Marathon Stages. The second of these was the all-new 48-hour Chrono Stage which plunged all competitors into a route of more than 500 kilometres through nothing but dunes, some measuring 250 metres tall.

All eyes were on 21-year-old Seth Quintero as the Dakar departed from AlUla. The 2023 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship winner in the T3 class has been given the keys to a Toyota GR DKR Hilux for this edition of the world’s toughest rally.

Quintero alongside co-driver Dennis Zenz took second place on the Prologue Stage on the first day of the rally. That was followed up by an encouraging third place on Stage Two. Unfortunately their Toyota Gazoo Racing machine then fell victim to the perilous terrain of the Dakar and they had to be towed out of the dunes. Despite the setback Quintero is still in the race and determined to show his speed in the second week of the rally.

“It’s been going very good and it’s also been on the other end of that spectrum as well. We’ve had so much fun and we’ve learned so much in these six days. We’ve had a couple of podiums and the whole thing has been a wild ride. Unfortunately on day four we were kind of taken out of the rally, but we kept our heads held high and got back into it.” Seth Quintero

In the Challenger it's the Taurus T3 Max Mitch Guthrie Jr. that is out in front. Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch have used the first week to get themselves to the summit of the general classification and are out to protect their precious lead in the second half of the rally.

“In this race the goal is to make it to the finish of every stage… and of course try to go fast. Over the first six days we’ve had our little bumps in the road. I’m excited for the second week, we’re going to push hard.”Mitch Guthrie Jr.

Occupying second spot overall in the Challenger race, also in a Taurus T3 Max, are Cristina Gutiérrez and co-driver Pablo Moreno. Gutiérrez has been quick to get to grips with her new vehicle in the first week of the rally and is determined to hold a spot on the podium until the end.

“We’re quite happy with our performance in the first half of this Dakar. It’s a new team for us and a new car. We’re also quite OK with the rhythm of the race and we’ve been competitive on every stage so far.” – Cristina Gutiérrez

Current Challenger class champion Austin ‘AJ’ Jones sits fourth overall at the Rest Day in Riyadh. After two Dakar wins in the past two years you can’t rule out Jones and co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin plotting a path to victory in their Can-Am Maverick during the second week.

“Last year we had so much rain and it was really cold so that made it tough. This year it’s just the stages themselves that are really hard. Every single day has been over 400 kilometres! We’re still in a decent spot and we’re going to make a plan for this next week coming up.” – Austin ‘AJ’ Jones

It was heartbreak on the final stage 12 months ago for Rokas Baciuška when he narrowly missed out on the overall T4 class win. This year it was a tough Stage One that Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal had to deal with after stepping up to Challenger class. The Can-Am Maverick crew have since battled back from 13th place in the Challenger rankings to start the second week of the rally in fifth place overall.

“It was a tough first half of the Dakar for us because on the first day we had a little problem with the car. I hope the second half will be faster, especially for us.”Rokas Baciuška

The 2024 Dakar Rally gets back underway tomorrow after the entire convoy has enjoyed a well-deserved Rest Day in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. All race vehicles have been given a comprehensive service and the competitors have had the chance to recharge their batteries.

Stage Seven features a maze of canyons during the 483-kilometre timed special stage between Riyadh and Al Duwadimi. Then comes five more perilous stages before the chequered flag finally flies in Yanbu on Friday, January 19.

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Source: Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team's official press release
Photo: Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool

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