The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team came of age at the 2022 Rallye du Maroc. 20-year-old Seth Quintero took the overall T3 win and team-mate Cristina Gutiérrez joined him on the podium, as all four of the team’s OT3s placed inside the Top 6. In total the team won four out of the five stages in North Africa and put themselves on the verge of World Rally-Raid Championship glory at the series finale later this month.
At the midway point of the rally Quintero found himself 10 minutes behind race leader Chaleco López. Over the course of the final three stages, the Californian put down the hammer to eventually cross the finish line with a 10 minute lead over López. The 20-year-old had completed a remarkable 20 minute turnaround to win his first-ever rally-raid.
“The last stage was beautiful today, I was just kind of bummed out that I couldn’t drive as fast as I wanted to because I was so nervous.” – Seth Quintero
Quintero’s hot streak continues after earlier this year – along with co-driver Dennis Zenz – making history with the most stage wins at a single edition of the Dakar (12).
Joining Quintero on the overall Rallye du Maroc podium is team-mate Gutiérrez who finished third. Gutiérrez and co-driver Pablo Moreno won Stage Four on their way to maintaining second place overall in the inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship. The same Top 3 from Morocco will battle it out at the series finale in Gutiérrez’s native Spain later this month.
“We will arrive in Andalucia with all the possibilities of the championship still open, so what better place to decide the title!” – Cristina Gutiérrez
Two further stage wins were picked up by the team in Morocco thanks to the driving of Guillaume de Mevius. Wins on day two and five of the Rallye du Maroc further underlined the racing credentials of De Mevius who has already won stages at the Dakar and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge this year. All the more impressive is that the Belgian's latest victories and overall sixth place have been achieve while developing an understanding with new co-driver François Cazalet.
“The last stage was quite nice and I think we have the win. It was a very nice race for everybody. All the four OT3s are at the end so we’re very happy with that.” – Guillaume de Mevius
Making sure all four of the team’s OT3s arrived at the finish line was Mitch Guthrie Jr. The American was able to transfer some of the speed that has seen him win races such as Vegas To Reno this year to the Moroccan desert. Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Ola Fløene placed fifth overall at the Rallye du Maroc and took another leap forward in their preparations for the upcoming Dakar.
“Having all four cars across the finish line with pretty solid times is amazing for the team after all the hard work. We got a lot of seat time ahead of the next Dakar and we’re excited for the next one.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
The next appointment for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team is the Andalucia Rally, taking place October 18-23. It’ll be a final tune up ahead of next January’s Dakar, as well as a chance for Quintero and Gutiérrez to target World Rally-Raid Championship glory at the series finale.
Seth Quintero: “I don’t think I’ve ever driven so cautious and scared in my life. Previously I’ve always been in the position to fight for a lead at a rally, rather than having to manage a lead. But the stage was beautiful today, I was just kind of bummed out that I couldn’t drive as fast as I wanted to because I was so nervous. It’s great to be at the finish line and call ourselves the overall winner. We came into this thinking that we were going to be out of the championship and now we’re pretty close. We’ll fight for second, and first isn’t too far ahead. We’ll keep fighting until the end and you never know, maybe we win again in Andalucia and win the championship. It would be a miracle, but anything’s possible! This race has taught me that you can never say die. I was nine minutes down on day three and then we put some time down on the last two days. The whole Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team has put in so much hard work to be here and I’m glad that it finally paid off.”
Source Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team
Photo: Kin Marcin / Red Bull Content Pool