World Rally-Raid Championship

2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Seth Quintero reciprocates Red Bull T3 1–2

5 Mins read
Credit: Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

At the Dakar Rally to begin the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship, Austin Jones beat his Red Bull team-mate Seth Quintero for victory in the T3 category. Slightly less than two months later, Quintero got to return the favour at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Quintero won three stages including the Prologue to score his second W2RC victory after the 2022 Rallye du Maroc. His total time of 16:58:31 was the third best among all FIA entries regardless of class, only behind the T1 cars of Yazeed Al-Rajhi and Martin Prokop by half an hour.

Jones ran directly behind Quintero in the first two legs before mechanical issues caused him to lose time in the midway point, including an eighth-place finish in Stage #3. He would finish over twenty-seven minutes behind his fellow American Red Bull driver. Jones finished eighth overall for FIA cars.

While he and Jones are split in overall victories and Dakar has a bigger points payout, Quintero holds the edge by five in the standings thanks to his five combined stage wins across the first two rounds. Jones’ lone segment victory of 2023 so far came in the third day at Dakar.

“Really tough race with a few issues but good times as always in the sand out there,” said Jones, who along with Quintero and their co-drivers will return to the United States this weekend for the legendary Mint 400. “Happy to finish on the podium.”

Aliyyah Koloc, competing in her home W2RC race, finished third championship-eligible drivers. With the exception of a thirteenth in Stage #4, Koloc scored top tens in each leg and beat Jean-Luc Ceccaldi for the final spot on the W2RC podium by nearly two minutes. The reigning FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas champion, she had told The Checkered Flag in December that she might consider but did not necessarily confirm a run at the full W2RC; she now sits ninth after the second round.

“It was great to finish third out of the W2RC runners,” Koloc stated. “I did not expect to get a podium finish coming into this rally, but I am really happy.”

Although Hernán Garcés and Lionel Baud finished ahead of Koloc in the overall, neither are competing for points. Mitch Guthrie, another member of the American-only Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, won two stages but placed outside the top ten overall due to multiple penalties.

Mattias Ekström, who ran the Dakar Rally in T1, had a roller coaster of a T3 début in which he flipped between strong stage finishes or bizarre misfortune. His rally began with an eighth in the Prologue after accidentally switching his Can-Am Maverick to its 2×4 configuration rather than 4×4, followed by running out of fuel in Stage #1. He bounced back by being the only non-Red Bull driver with a stage victory in Stage #2, only to suffer an enigne failure a day later that knocked him out of the overall. Ekström switched to a new engine ahead of the fourth stage, which he won but was not officially classified as such as the engine change resulted in a fifty-hour penalty for the day. A runner-up in the final leg did little in the overall as he finished last among the seventeen finishers.

Ekström’s South Racing colleague and fellow Swede Tim Marklund was also not safe from an up-and-down ADDC. Even before it began, his co-driver Oskar Andersson was unable to make the trip to the United Arab Emirates due to passport snags and ended up spending the week vacationing in Thailand. With Alexey Kuzmich by his side, Marklund battled various mechanical issues before flipping on a dune in the final stage and missing multiple waypoints as a result, but managed to reach the finish.

Despite the Red Bulls enjoying an overall strong ADDC, they were not exempt from drama either. Shortly before the rally, the team was subject to an FIA investigation that ended in a €1,000 fine for not completing their W2RC entry payments before the 1 February deadline. Cristina Gutiérrez, who races for the programme’s Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing arm and finished second in class at the 2022 ADDC, received three penalties totalling over seventy-seven hours due to a non-compliant air restrictor in her car’s engine, though delays in the hearing caused it to take place after she had started Stage #4; the ruling was effectively void when Gutiérrez retired anyway with a mechanical failure.

Dania Akeel was disqualfied for the same infraction after Stage #4 after the FIA found her restrictor had scratches that extended beyond the permitted 27-mm inner diameter. While the team insisted it was unintentional, Akeel would ultimately be the lone disqualification of the ADDC.

“I’d like to thank the team for their hard work and respect the stewards’ decision as the regulations keep the game fair for all,” commented Akeel. “The appropriate steps will be taken to have the car race ready. I’d also like to thank the sponsors for their trust and commitment to this season. Looking forward to the next round.”

T3 overall results

FinishNumberDriverCo-DriverTeamTimeMargin
1302Seth QuinteroDennis ZensRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team16:58:31Leader
2301Austin JonesGustavo GugelminRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team17:26:16+ 27:45
3314Hernán Garcés*Juan Pablo LatrachSouth Racing Can-Am17:54:59+ 56:28
4319Lionel Baud*Lucie BaudGRallyTeam18:26:29+ 1:27:58
5310Aliyyah KolocStéphane DupléBuggyra Racing19:20:09+ 2:21:38
6317Khalid Aljafla*Bruno JacomyKhalid Aljafla19:49:59+ 2:51:28
7320Anja van Loon*Floor MatenSouth Racing Can-Am20:52:29+ 3:53:58
8306Jean-Luc CeccaldiCédric DupléJean-Luc Ceccaldi21:13:55+ 4:15:24
9308Claude FournierSzymon GospodarczykClaude Fournier22:33:26+ 5:34:55
10305João FerreiraFlilipe PalmeiroX-raid Team34:03:43+ 17:05:12
11303Mitch GuthrieKellon WalchRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team35:31:32+ 18:33:01
12315Eduardo Pons*Mónica PlazaSouth Racing Can-Am38:53:49+ 21:55:18
13311Erik van LoonSebastien DelaunaySouth Racing Can-Am39:12:22+ 22:13:51
14313Annett FischerAnnie SeelX-raid Team41:06:16+ 24:07:45
15322Tim Marklund*Alexey KuzmichSouth Racing Can-Am54:07:50+ 37:09:19
16324Hassan Al-Sadadi*Bader Al-AjmiR-X Sport66:28:57+ 49:30:26
17300Mattias EkströmEmil BergkvistSouth Racing Can-Am91:27:40+ 74:29:09
DNF304Cristina GutiérrezPablo Moreno HueteRed Bull Can-Am Factory RacingDNFN/A
DNF318Nazar Al-Shanfari*Ali MirzaR-X SportDNFN/A
DNF321Glenn Brinkman*Dale MoscattGlenn BrinkmanDNFN/A
DNF323Yungang Zi*Zengrong WangGRallyTeam/BAIC ORVDNFN/A
DSQ309Dania AkeelTaye PerrySouth Racing Can-AmDSQN/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

T3 stage winners

StageNumberDriverTeamTime
Prologue302Seth QuinteroRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team5:14
Stage #1302Seth QuinteroRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team3:28:31
Stage #2300Mattias EkströmSouth Racing Can-Am3:52:09
Stage #3303Mitch GuthrieRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team4:06:33
Stage #4302Seth QuinteroRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team2:36:55
Stage #5303Mitch GuthrieRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team2:42:56

Overall winners

ClassNumberCompetitorTeamTime
T1207Yazeed Al-RajhiOverdrive Racing16:28:06
T3302Seth QuinteroRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team16:58:31
T4400Rokas BaciuškaRed Bull Can-Am Factory Racing17:25:47
RallyGP42Adrien Van BeverenMonster Energy Honda Rally Team17:13:39
Rally296Tobias Ebster*SRG Motorsports2:36:51
Quad174Abdulaziz AhliAbu Dhabi Team22:01:51

W2RC T3 standings

Drivers’ standings

RankDriverPointsMargin
1Seth Quintero127Leader
2Austin Jones122– 5
3Mitch Guthrie81– 46
4Francisco López Contardo55– 72
5Cristina Gutiérrez52– 75
6João Ferreira51– 76
7Jean-Luc Ceccaldi41– 86
8Claude Fournier35– 92
9Aliyyah Koloc34– 93
10David Zille24– 103
11Hélder Rodrigues22– 105
12Mattias Ekström16– 111
13Dania Akeel15– 112
14Erik van Loon13– 114
15Annett Fischer11– 116

Co-drivers’ standings

RankCo-DriverDriverPointsMargin
1Dennis ZenzSeth Quintero127Leader
2Gustavo GugelminAustin Jones122– 5
3Kellon WalchMitch Guthrie81– 46
4Juan Pablo LatrachFrancisco López Contardo55– 72
5Pablo Moreno HueteCristina Gutiérrez52– 75
6Filipe PalmeiroJoão Ferreira51– 76
7Cédric DupléJean-Luc Ceccaldi41– 86
8Stéphane DupleAliyyah Koloc34– 93
9Sebastián CesanaDavid Zille24– 103
10Gonçalo ReisHélder Rodrigues22– 105
11Arnold BrucyClaude Fournier20– 107
12Emil BergkvistMattias Ekström16– 111
T-13Szymon GospodarczykClaude Fournier15– 112
T-13Sergio LafuenteDania Akeel15– 112
15Sébastien DelaunayErik van Loon13– 114
16Annie SeelAnnett Fischer11– 116
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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