2024 Dakar Rally: Cristina Gutierrez, Mitch Guthrie’s engines cleared by FIA

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Credit: Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

The Taurus T3 Max dominated the Dakar Rally‘s Challenger class in January, winning nine of twelve stages and finishing 1–2 with Cristina Gutiérrez and Mitch Guthrie. However, they perhaps performed a little too well.

A complaint was lodged against both drivers’ engines during the race, prompting the FIA to claim them for teardown and inspection back in France. Three months later, the FIA confirmed the motors are legal and their finish will stand.

João Monteiro and South Racing Can-Am filed the protest on 17 January, claiming Guthrie and Gutiérrez originally had bearings in their engines made from composite material in violation of FIA rules. The allegation came on the heels of Taurus drivers Eryk Goczał and his uncle Michał Goczał being disqualified for using such material in their clutches, which is forbidden under Article 2.3 of the FIA International Sporting Code’s Appendix J, Article 286.

During a hearing on 3 April, the FIA’s Technical Delegate clarified this restriction does not apply to certain engine parts and that “the use of bearing made of composite material is allowed.” The verdict came down during the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid, incidentally won by Monteiro in the SSV category.

“We will continue down the same path we have been following, never ceasing to develop the most efficient car in the Challenge category market, the lightest, the one with the lowest maintenance cost, with the capability for any driver, regardless of the team, to be as competitive as their abilities demonstrate,” concludes a statement from Taurus, a joint collaboration between MCE-5 Development and Wevers Sport.

Taurus came under scrutiny following the Goczałs’ disqualifications; the family-run EnergyLandia Rally Team had won all six stages prior to their penalties with five by Eryk and one by father Marek. Eryk insisted his clutch was permitted and did not provide him with an unfair advantage, while Taurus subsequently apologised for a “misinterpretation of the technical regulations” by the team.

After the race, Monteiro made a protest against Guthrie and Taurus allies Dania Akeel and Nicolás Cavigliasso to see if their clutches were legal. The FIA found no wrongdoing in those investigations.

Gutiérrez scored a stage win en route to becoming the second woman to win a Dakar overall, while Guthrie claimed three legs. Taurus added four consecutive stage victories courtesy of Cavigliasso and Marcelo Gastaldi to close out the rally

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