Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team created ahead of 2023 Dakar Rally

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Credit: Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

For the 2023 off-road racing season, Red Bull will join forces with a UTV powerhouse. On Tuesday, the energy drink company announced a partnership with Can-Am to form the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team and a new-look Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team that will compete in the World Rally-Raid Championship and North American desert racing. As part of the new deal, the programme’s six drivers will all race the Can-Am Maverick X3 prepared by South Racing.

From their inception in 2020, the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team had used the OT3 from Overdrive Racing. The car enjoyed tremendous success at the 2022 Dakar Rally when Seth Quintero won all but one stage in the T4 class.

“This year we’ve made a very big change, but I don’t think my driving style or mindset is going to change at all,” commented Quintero. “We have a really good shot at winning Dakar this year.”

After Quintero suffered a stage retirement that knocked him out of category overall contention, Austin Jones went on to win for Monster Energy but will migrate to the rival energy drink brand and Junior Team for 2023. Jones finished third in the W2RC T4 standings and has also won his class at the Baja 1000 twice.

“This next Dakar route is the longest it’s been for a while now,” Jones said. “We’ve got 5,000 kilometres and fifteen days of racing. It’s definitely going to be a challenge with the extra days, but I’m excited for it. More days and more kilometres gives extra opportunities for things to happen.”

Mitch Guthrie returns to the Junior Team, three months removed from winning the inaugural California 300 in September. He will drive an MCE5 T3-M, which he explained “is a development vehicle looking towards the future and our goal is to be the first UTV hybrid to race the Dakar.”

Rokas Baciuška held off Marek Goczał and Jones for the 2022 World Rally-Raid T4 title. The Lithuanian was already a Can-Am driver for South Racing, but can now add Red Bull athlete to his burgeoning résumé. By joining the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team, Baciuška will move up to T3 for 2023.

“I’m going back to the Dakar looking for the win,” commented Baciuška. “In 2022, I was third and that was a good result for my first-ever Dakar. Now everything is in place for me to fight for top spot.”

Cristina Gutiérrez and Francisco López Contardo return to the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team. López won the T3 championship ahead of Quintero and Gutiérrez.

“The strategy is going to be the same as always at the 2023 Dakar, I want to be clever on each stage and take things day by day,” stated Gutiérrez, fresh off winning the Extreme E championship alongside 2022 Dakar runner-up Sébastien Loeb. “After driving the Can-Am Maverick I now feel comfortable with the car and the team are great to work with.”

López will also work as a mentor for the team and explained, “This year I have a new role in a new team and this gives me such a lot of motivation to do the very best I can.”

All six will compete at the Dakar Rally beginning 31 December. Besides the other four W2RC legs, American Red Bull racers Jones, Guthrie, and Quintero will also take part in their home country’s events such as King of the Hammers, the Mint 400, and Best In The Desert.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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