Red Bull Desert Wings propelled into World Championship pole position after mastering the sands of Abu Dhabi

03.03.2023: A roller coaster of a race at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has wrapped up after 1,311 kilometres over the dunes. There was plenty of pulsating action across all categories of the World Rally-Raid Championship during all five desert stages. Let’s ta


A roller coaster of a race at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge has wrapped up after 1,311 kilometres over the dunes. There was plenty of pulsating action across all categories of the World Rally-Raid Championship during all five desert stages. Let’s take a look at who’s celebrating in Abu Dhabi City tonight…






In the car race the week got progressively better for nine-time WRC winner Sébastien Loeb. The Frenchman and his co-driver Fabian Lurquin were unable to finish Stage One due to mechanical issues and were forced to change their engine before rejoining the race the following day.



Time penalties took Loeb out of the hunt for the overall lead in Abu Dhabi, but he battled back for stage results in the remaining four stages behind the wheel of his BRX Prodrive Hunter. With Loeb’s championship rival Nasser Al-Attiyah forced to retire from the rally – rolling his Toyota Hilux GR DKR T1+ on Stage Three – the W2RC standings took a dramatic twist. Loeb now leads Al-Attiyah in the championship by 16 points with three rounds remaining.



“There was some very hard work and long hours put in for these valuable points both on the rally and back in the bivouac.” – Sébastien Loeb



Riding a wave of mature racing all week was 20-year-old Seth Quintero who took the overall win in the T3 class. Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz backed up their wins on the Prologue and Stage One to hold the T3 lead from start to finish in Abu Dhabi. Quintero set the third fastest time across all the categories at the ADDC, a truly remarkable achievement by the driver who now leads the overall T3 standings in the W2RC.



“We’ve won the T3 race and we’re P3 overall amongst all the cars. To be competitive against the T1 cars in my Can-Am is great for the whole team who have been backing me up all week.” – Seth Quintero



Following Quintero home was fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich driver Austin ‘AJ’ Jones who took second overall in the T3 race. AJ and co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin now sit in second in the W2RC T3 rankings.



“We finished in P2 so we got some good points for the championship and now we move onto the next one.” – Austin Jones





The third Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich crew of Mitch Guthrie Jr./Kellon Walch celebrated wins on Stages Three and Five in their MCE5 vehicle during the ADDC.



“This race definitely had some ups and downs. We had our issues along the way, but we also won a couple of stages.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.




Elsewhere in the T3 contest there were tough moments for the Can-Am crews of Cristina Gutiérrez/Pablo Moreno and Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist.



“From an experience point of view we had a good rally, but we didn’t get the result that we wanted.” – Mattias Ekström



Victory in the T4 race was claimed by Rokas Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal of the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team. After second place at the 2023 Dakar Rally, Baciuška is now the leading T4 driver on the W2RC leaderboard.



“Here in Abu Dhabi we didn’t make any mistakes and when you don’t make mistakes you win the race.” – Rokas Baciuška


Toby Price of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is the bike category leader of the W2RC. The runner-up at the 2023 Dakar powered his way up the rankings as the week went on in Abu Dhabi.



“On Stage Five we got the win and clawed our way back onto the final podium. That puts us in the lead for the overall championship with a good lot of points for this round.” – Toby Price




Round Three of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship takes place next month in Mexico. The Sonora Rally is a new addition to the calendar this year and will present the convoy with a fresh set of challenges in April.




Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Results


T1
1. Y. AL RAJHI (SAU) TOYOTA 16:28:06
2. M. PROKOP (CZE) FORD +12:31
3. J. YACOPINI (ARG) TOYOTA +32:57

T3
1. S. QUINTERO (USA) CAN-AM 16:58:31
2. A. JONES (USA) CAN-AM +27:45
3. H. GARCES ECHEVERRIA (CHL) CAN-AM +56:28

T4
1. R. BACIUSKA (LTU) CAN-AM 17:25:47
2. M. AL HELEI (ARE) CAN-AM +12:03
3. P. NAVARRO (ESP) CAN-AM +26:00

Bike
1. A. VAN BEVEREN (FRA) HONDA 17:13:39
2. L. BENAVIDES (ARG) HUSQVARNA +04:18
3. T. PRICE (AUS) KTM +05:13
 
World Rally-Raid Championship: Rankings
T1
1. S. LOEB (FRA) PRODRIVE 101 points
2. N. AL-ATTIYAH TOYOTA 85
3. M. PROKOP (CZE) FORD 64

T3
1. S. QUINTERO (USA) CAN-AM 127 points
2. A. JONES (USA) CAN-AM 121
3. M. GUTHRIE JR. (USA) MCE5 81

T4
1. R. BACIUSKA (LTU) CAN-AM 134 points
2. E. GOCZAL (POL) CAN-AM 86
3. P. NAVARRO (ESP) CAN-AM 73

Bike
1. T. PRICE (AUS) KTM 46 points
2. A. VAN BEVEREN (FRA) HONDA 42
3. K. BENAVIDES (ARG) HONDA 38






QUOTES




Sébastien Loeb: “We’re at the end of the rally in Abu Dhabi and we’ve taken some very good points for the championship. That’s the best we could expect when we got here, coming away with the lead intact. Today we’ve increased our lead from two to 16 points so I think we have to be happy after the problems we had early on in the event.

Thank you to everybody in the team to turn this around; there was some very hard work and long hours put in for these valuable points both on the rally and back in the bivouac. Now the focus moves to the Sonora Rally in April.”



Seth Quintero: “It’s been an awesome week for us. The week started off with a win in the Prologue and then we backed it up with another win on Stage One. We got an awesome lead on Stage One and we tried to manage that the whole way through. We’ve won the T3 race and we’re P3 overall amongst all the cars. To be competitive against the T1 cars in my Can-Am is great for the whole team who have been backing me up all week.”



Austin Jones: “It was a really nice race. Good stages and obviously lots of dunes. It was hard and dangerous to drive so I’m really happy that we finished in one piece. Overall we finished in P2 so we got some good points for the championship and now we move onto the next one.”



Mitch Guthrie Jr.: “This race definitely had some ups and downs. We had our issues along the way, but we also won a couple of stages. Overall, the rally was a lot of fun. It was also gruelling due to the heat and the crazy dunes. I can’t thank the team enough for all their hard work this week.”



Mattias Ekström: “From an experience point of view we had a good rally, but we didn’t get the result that we wanted. On one day we ran out of fuel and on another we broke the engine. In between these tough moments we had some really good pace and enjoyed learning more about driving in the dunes.”



Rokas Baciuška: “Last year we were second here and this year we are first. We are now also leading the world championship. There are still three tough races to come so we will see what happens. Here in Abu Dhabi we didn’t make any mistakes and when you don’t make mistakes you win the race.”



Toby Price: “It took the first few days to adjust to the dunes and the drops. Day three was good, but then opening Stage Four was tough. On Stage Five we got the win and clawed our way back onto the final podium. That puts us in the lead for the overall championship with a good lot of points for this round.”

    

- Christine FIAL,photos Red Bull

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/red-bull-desert-wings-world-championship-pole-abu-dhabi-desert-challenge---248144.html

03.03.2023 / MaP

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