January 2, 2022
- Seth Quintero (USA) of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team is the overnight leader of the Dakar Rally’s T3 category after winning the 334km opening stage. Quintero made history during his Dakar debut last year when he became the rally’s youngest ever stage winner.
- Quintero’s winning time of 4h21m35s put the 19-year-old on the cusp of an overall Top 10 result of all vehicles at the Dakar. Today’s result gives Quintero an early lead of nearly two minutes from his closest rival
- Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz (GER) also won yesterday’s prologue stage to make the perfect start to their Dakar. Navigator Zenz has kept the crew on the right path during the opening stages of this Dakar.
- “We had an amazing time out there and hopefully we can keep this streak going. I’m trying my best to be a quick learner, I think being young helps.” – Seth Quintero
- Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) is fifth overall in the T3 category after the first stage. Gutiérrez lost time when forced to stop and fix her steering column on the stage.
- 2021 FIA World Cup winner and her co-driver François Cazalet (FRA) return to action in tomorrow’s 338km stage between Ha’il and Al Artawiyah. Last season this duo won the Andalucia Rally and Rally Kazakhstan.
- “We lost some time today but we have lots of days to try and recover this time.” – Cristina Gutiérrez
- Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) made his Dakar Rally debut after joining the team as a late replacement for Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA). 2021 WRC-2 champion Mikkelsen is racing alongside co-driver Ola Fløene (NOR) in an all-Norwegian pairing.
- Mikkelsen hit some gearbox issues during his first long stage in the desert and was stuck in third and then first gear for sections of the route.
- Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) endured a tough first Dakar stage when his vehicle came to a standstill after 261km of the 334km stage.
- De Mevius is accompanied by co-driver Kellon Walch (USA) who swapped in for Tom Colsoul (BEL) at the last minute. Walch co-drove yesterday’s prologue with De Mevius after landing in Jeddah that same morning, after flying in from Los Angeles via Paris.
- 4,000km spread over 11 further desert stages are still to be raced in Saudi Arabia before the chequered flag falls at the Dakar.
Seth Quintero: “Stage 1 went really well. My mindset coming into this race was to go slow in the slow and go fast in the fast. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing. Getting to the refuel I think we had about an eight or nine minute lead so that was amazing. Then unfortunately with about 60km to go we got lost for about 15 minutes. The day could have gone better, but it also could have been much worse.”
“We’re the first in our category to arrive and I think we placed pretty well overall. The navigation was super tough today but my co-pilot Dennis absolutely killed it. We had an amazing time out there and hopefully we can keep this streak going. I’m trying my best to be a quick learner, I think being young helps.”
Cristina Gutiérrez: “The first part of the stage was very nice. I think we were in second place. But then just after the refuelling we could not change direction. We stopped and found that we had broken the shaft of the steering wheel. We did the repair and we lost more or less 20 minutes.”
“The navigation was very hard. All the people got lost, everyone turning around, a lot of tracks. It was impossible not to lose more time there. Finally we could reach the finish of the stage. We lost some time today but we have lots of days to try and recover this time.”
Andreas Mikkelsen: “The first 50km was OK, but after that we had some issues. We were stuck in third gear so when we came to an uphill section we were in trouble. We had to stop to fix the issue. We found a solution but after that we could only use first gear. We had to do the last 100km in first gear.”