Gustavo Gugelmin is shutting off his roadbook and hanging up his helmet. On Monday, he announced he will not run the rest of the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship to spend more time with his family. He did not necessarily call it a retirement, however, leaving the door open for a return in the future.
Gugelmin is a three-time Dakar Rally winner, scoring his first in 2018 in the UTV category (now SSV) with Reinaldo Varela. The Brazilians also won the 2012 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies in T2, the 2015 Rally dos Sertões in their home country, and the 2019 World Cup in T3. He later joined up with American desert racing ace Austin Jones, and they claimed the final T4 World Cup in 2021 before its reformation into the W2RC the following year. Their momentum continued under the new series as they topped T4 at Dakar before going on to finish third in the championship; Gugelmin is the first Brazilian with multiple Dakar victories.
The duo graduated to the T3 (now Challenger) class in 2023, and quickly made an impact by winning the Dakar again. They scrapped with fellow Red Bull racers Mitch Guthrie and Seth Quintero for the title, but came up short and settled for third in points.
“Gustavo’s been super important. In rally raid, your navigator is as important as the driver is, so I think we make a really good team,” Jones told The Checkered Flag during the 2023 season-ending Rallye du Maroc. “He’s been riding with me for I think four years, almost five years now, so we’ve got a really good system down. We got a good flow. Going on with him calling notes and me reacting to his stuff. He’s a great mechanic. That’s been huge because when something happens or we need to get out of the car and break out the tools, I can always count on Gustavo to be able to diagnose and fix the situation. Gustavo’s huge. He’s been a huge help and we make a really good team.”
Gugelmin’s final race, the 2024 Dakar Rally in January, ended with a fifth-place finish for him and Jones in Challenger.
Outside of navigation, he runs Gugelmin Racing. The team won the 2023 Rally dos Sertões in the UTV Over 45 class with Marcelo Tomasoni, while Gugelmin and his brother Sergio finished eighth in the UTV Over 50 division. Gugelmin also helped prepare the SSV of Rodrigo Varela, Reinaldo’s son, for his Dakar début in 2024.
Gugelmin wrote Monday, “Surely, we covered more than the Earth’s circumference, and I can say we were on the podium in almost every race we did! The combination of a Brazilian with an American was never thought of before, and I also have to thank Scott Abraham (South Racing Can-Am team principal) for trusting in my abilities. […]
“It’s enviable – three Dakars in UTVs! It will be tough to watch from the sidelines this year, but it’s a year to focus on family, work, and life. I can’t say I won’t race again because it’s in my blood. I’ve been racing since I was eight years old, but I want to thank everyone who follows me and my family for all the support over the years.”
Jones has not announced his new co-driver for the rest of the season. The next W2RC race, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, begins in twenty days.