Dakar 2023: Stage 12 - Juniors hold first and second place overall as 2023 Dakar Rally heads into the home straight   

Dakar 2023: Stage 12 - Juniors hold first and second place overall as 2023 Dakar Rally heads into the home straight  

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With more than 4,000 racing kilometres done at the 2023 Dakar Rally, the T3 rankings are being dominated by the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich. Following another win on Stage 12 to add to the team’s collection, the young squad hold the top two spots in the T3 category’s general classification.

Huge amounts of skill and patience have been demonstrated by driver AJ Jones behind the wheel of his Can-Am Maverick. The 26-year-old Arizonian moved himself into second overall as far back as Stage Five. Jones then spent a week hunting down the race leader and pounced when the opportunity presented itself on Stage 11.

“Our plan before this rally was to make sure we did our own race. I’m not the most experienced at this rally, but I do have some. I’ve also been learning from the best around.”AJ Jones

Jones won the T4 category at last year’s Dakar alongside his Brazilian co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin. Now the pair hold a lead of over an hour from their nearest T3 competitor. The duo have given themselves every chance of victory, but are taking nothing for granted with two stages left to race.

“Things can change quickly at the Dakar. We’ll do our best to stay on point on the last two stages because nothing is over until the very last kilometre has been raced.”AJ Jones

Occupying second place overall after Stage 12 is Jones’s fellow Junior Team driver Seth Quintero. The 20-year-old has shown mental resilience well beyond his age to battle through every moment of adversity that has been thrown at him during this Dakar.

“There’s been hardships and heartbreaks along the way. We did so well on the first four stages this year, but then we ran out of fuel one day and that cost us a couple of hours. So to be here in P2 now with two days to go feels good.”Seth Quintero

Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz are now on the verge of grabbing their first overall podium finish at the Dakar. However, such is the competitive nature of the pair they will not give up on first place until the chequered flag has fallen in Dammam on Sunday.

“We’re still an hour off P1 so there’s a lot of work to do there… if there’s even a chance for us. We’re going to keep fighting no matter what.” – Seth Quintero

There’s few race crews who have experienced the unique ups and downs of the Dakar quite like the third Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich duo at this rally. The all-American pair of Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch set the fastest T3 time for the fourth time during this Dakar on Stage 12. Unfortunately their latest stage win does little to move them up the general rankings due to the significant time losses they suffered on a couple of earlier stages.

“We’ve had ups and downs throughout this Dakar. We’ve had four stage wins so far and also two days with issues that took us out of the fight for the overall. I’m happy with what we’ve been able to do, at one point we were leading the overall.”Mitch Guthrie Jr.

Guthrie Jr.’s stage wins have demonstrated the performance of his T3-M by MCE5 machine. The 26-year-old Californian is playing a key part in helping the team to develop a vehicle to race in the T3-U (Ultimate) category at next year’s Dakar.

With just two stages left at the 2023 Dakar it’s a time for cool heads as the young squad of drivers look to bring home the team’s first-ever overall victory at the world’s most brutal rally. It would be an historic result and the latest achievement in the program’s short but distinguished story of giving talented, young and hungry drivers their shot at competing against the best in the most prestigious off-road events around the globe.

Selected T3 Results on Stage 12
1. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) MCE5 02:17:11
2. Ignacio Casale (CHL)/Alvaro Leon (CHL) YAMAHA +00:29
3. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL)/François Cazalet (FRA) OT3 +00:52
5. AJ Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) CAN-AM +03:21
13. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (GER) CAN-AM +12:04

Selected T3 Overall after Stage 12
1. AJ Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) CAN-AM 47:39:47
2. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (GER) CAN-AM +01:04:37
3. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL)/François Cazalet (FRA) OT3 +01:25:50
24. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) MCE5 +27:54:43

Source: Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA
Flavien Duhamel / Red Bull Content Pool

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