Fresh off winning the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship in the T3 class, Seth Quintero will move up to the top-level Ultimate (T1) category in 2024 with powerhouse Toyota Gazoo Racing. On Thursday, TGR announced Quintero and Lucas Moraes will race the Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ at the Dakar Rally, with Dennis Zenz and Armand Monleón respectively as co-drivers.
Quintero battled with his Red Bull team-mates Austin Jones and Mitch Guthrie for the T3 championship in 2023, beating the latter by just five points. After finishing runner-up to Jones at Dakar, Quintero beat Jones for the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge victory. Despite poor finishes at the next two rounds, he placed second at the season-ending Rallye du Maroc to clinch the title.
Hours after the final stage in Morocco, Quintero got his first taste of a Hilux as part of the W2RC Next Gen Tryouts, designed to let drivers in the T3 and T4 categories pilot T1+ cars. Pau Navarro, a former T4 competitor and fellow tryout participant in a Mini, also confirmed his move up to Ultimate for 2024 on Thursday.
Moraes signed with TGR’s Brazilian subsidiary in July, on the heels of an impressive Dakar Rally début when he finished third overall in T1. He continued his momentum in his maiden start as a TGR Brasil driver with a runner-up at the Baja Aragón. Both races were won by Nasser Al-Attiyah, who added five Dakar Rallies, two World Rally-Raid Championships, and three Cross-Country Bajas World Cups for TGR before departing the team at the end of the 2023 W2RC season.
Zenz follows Quintero from T3, while Monleón raced the Dakar on a bike from 2016 to 2019 before becoming a navigator. He and Jakub Przygonski finished eighteenth at the Dakar Rally in January in a Mini for X-raid Team.
With Al-Attiyah at rival Prodrive for 2024, TGR hopes Quintero and Moraes can step it up in his place. To guide them along, the team is continuing to upgrade the Hilux T1+ though specific details have not been immediately revealed.
The Hilux won all five W2RC rounds in 2023 courtesy of Al-Attiyah and Yazeed Al-Rajhi of Overdrive Racing, enabling Toyota to clinch the manufacturer’s title at the penultimate round. Toyota drivers also occupied the top three in the final standings with Al-Attiyah ahead of Al-Rajhi and Juan Cruz Yacopini.
“Looking back over our W2RC and Dakar journeys, which started with our commitment to enter the inaugural W2RC season, I can’t help but be extremely proud,” commented Toyota Motor Europe Vice President Andrea Carlucci. “We started with a two-year commitment with a single entry, and could never have imagined the results we attained. Thanks to our GR DKR Hilux T1+, which proved highly reliable and robust; together with the skill and experience of Nasser and Mathieu (Baumel), we attained a perfect set of results over the first two seasons of the W2RC: Manufacturer’s, Driver’s, and Co-Driver’s titles in both seasons.
“Now, we are in a position to confirm TGR’s continued commitment to the FIA’s W2RC, starting with the Dakar Rally 2024. Furthermore, we are working towards the goals as set out by the Dakar Future 2026 project, but more than that, we will be stepping up our engagement by adding two new crews to the team.”
Quintero will run his first race in the Hilux at this weekend’s Dubai International Baja, while Moraes’ first is the Baja Qassim on 23–25 November. The 2024 Dakar Rally and W2RC begin on 5 January.