It’s been a memorable opening to the 2023 Dakar Rally for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich. A stage win on day two and all three race crews sitting in the Top 5 of the Dakar’s T3 category marks an impressive start for the squad. It’s two days down, another 12 stages to go at the most brutal motorsport event on the planet!
After missing out on the 2022 Dakar through illness it’s clear that Mitch Guthrie Jr. is out to make up for lost time. Guthrie Jr. is taking charge of the brand-new T3-M by MCE5 vehicle at this Dakar – and right away he has his new ride attacking the front of the race and winning stages!
“The plan for us has been to keep the car moving and keep a good pace every single day. It’s only Stage Two, but getting the win is an awesome feeling.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
Guthrie Jr.’s machine features a 32-inch KDR3 BFG tyre/bespoke KMC wheel combo and is key to the team which set its goal to develop a hybrid vehicle inline with the latest FIA regulations for the T3-U (Ultimate) category to compete at the 2024 Dakar. To already be winning stages is a remarkable achievement, all the more special because today is co-driver Kellon Walch’s 40th birthday!
“Kellon did great today with navigation and the car was awesome. The gameplan was to stay focused and keep the car in one piece. We ended up getting zero flats and just kept it moving.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
Guthrie Jr. and Walch’s team-mates Seth Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz joined them on the Stage Two podium, finishing with the day’s third fastest T3 time. We’re seeing a different Quintero at the Dakar this year as he remains determined to stay in contention for big prize right up to the final day.
“I’ve gone into the rally this time as a whole new me. Last year I was very eager and emotional, desperate to win every stage. This time I’m kicking back and enjoying the show with the aim of being there at the end. I’m feeling like a more mature racer this year, but the idea is still to be on top at the end.” – Seth Quintero
Quintero is also adapting to a new ride for this Dakar as he takes the wheel of a Can-Am Maverick. The 20-year-old Californian has put himself second overall in the T3 classification, 8m43s behind early race leader Chaleco López.
The third Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich race crew of AJ Jones and co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin are also right in the mix after two stages. Jones used his previous Dakar experience – including winning last year’s T4 race – to guide his Can-Am Maverick to the finish line despite suffering two punctures and running out of spare tyres on the stage.
“My previous experience at the Dakar helped today, in fact I’ve had some situations just like today. These situations happen and when they do you’ve just got to make the best of a tough day.” – AJ Jones
Tomorrow points the Dakar convoy towards Ha’il via a timed special stage measuring 447km. There’s plenty more big boulders and steep canyons to navigate before the stage ends on the dunes.
T3 Top 5 on Stage Two
1. Mitch Guthrie (USA) MCE5 05:38:31
2. Chaleco López (CHL) CAN-AM +01:25
3. Seth Quintero (USA) CAN-AM +07:01
4. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) OT3 +08:29
5. AJ Jones (USA) CAN-AM +14:15
T3 Top 5 Overall
1. Chaleco López (CHL) CAN-AM 09:37:36
2. Seth Quintero (USA) CAN-AM +08:43
3. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) OT3 +08:53
4. Mitch Guthrie (USA) MCE5 +09:52
5. AJ Jones (USA) CAN-AM +16:22