Red Bull Off-Road Team USA have won six of the first 10 stages in the side-by-side race at the 2020 Dakar Rally. Results have been even better on the last two days of racing, with the team scoring 1-2 finishes on Stages 9 and 10.
Stage 10 between Haradh and Shubaytah saw Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) claim a third stage win of his debut Dakar drive. Alongside co-driver Ola Floene (NOR), Guthrie Jr. was able to dominate the dunes in his OT3 by Overdrive throughout the stage.
“I’ve ended up with the stage win which is really awesome. Blade’s right behind me so we went 1-2 again. It’s another successful day.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
Guthrie Jr. celebrated with his team-mate Blade Hildebrand (USA) at the finish line as the Dakar Experience drivers made it back-to-back 1-2 finishes. On Stage 9 it had been the turn of Blade and co-driver Francois Cazalet (FRA) to control the race from Wadi Al-Dawasir and Haradh.
“I know a lot of the drivers in other teams at the Dakar. These drivers have been coming up to me to tell say how impressed they are with Blade and Mitch.” – Jean Marc Fortin, Overdrive CEO
Mitch, Ola, Blade and Francois are with their OT3s in the marathon stage bivouac tonight. Marathon stage rules mean they’re separated from their mechanics so any repairs needed on the car must by carried out themselves.
“We had minimal issues with the car today. We’ll be able to get everything done that needs to get done tonight. Then tomorrow we’ll head out for the second part of the marathon stage.” – Blade Hildebrand
Since generously donating his engine to Mitch and Ola and retiring from the rally, five-time Dakar winner Cyril Despres (FRA) has been continuing his coaching brief with the team. Despres was able to offer his expertise on how best to cope with the testing conditions that occur during a marathon stage.
“I was able to coach the guys in the days leading up to this marathon stage. I told them what I know and they were really paying attention. From day one they’ve been listening, but yesterday they were even more focused.” – Cyril Despres
The progress made by Red Bull Off-Road Team USA at their debut Dakar has been truly remarkable. With all three crews – including Despres and Mike Horn (SUI) scoring stage wins – and now a succession of 1-2 finishes. The performance bodes well for the continued improvement of the OT3 and the development of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Program drivers.
“The results we’re enjoying now are down to the hard work we’ve been putting in since arriving here. Now we’re coming close to the end, but the rally is not finished yet. We want to keep improving until the end of the last stage.” – Jean Marc Schmit, OT3 Technical Director
Two stages remain at the 2020 Dakar for Red Bull Off-Road Team USA. Tomorrow is the second part of the marathon stage, a further 379 kilometres against clock. Then on Friday, the final stage will be contested between Haradh and Qiddiya.
The 2020 Dakar finishes on Friday, January 17 in Qiddiya. Keep up-to-date with Red Bull Off-Road Team USA on Red Bull Motorsports’ social media: Red Bull Motorsport Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Desert Wings Instagram / Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team Instagram
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2020 Dakar Rally Side-by-side Race Stage 10 Top 3
1. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA)/Ola Floene (NOR) OT3 02h23m47s
2. Blade Hildebrand (USA)/Francois Cazalet (FRA) OT3 +25s
3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP)/Armand Monleon (ESP) Can-Am +01m22s
Mitch Guthrie Jr.: “I started 30 seconds behind my team-mate Blade (Hildebrand). I kind of followed Blade through the dunes and we ended up in a group. It was tough to get away from anyone. I’ve ended up with the stage win which is really awesome. Blade’s right behind me so we went 1-2 again. It’s another successful day. It’s marathon stage so tonight we’ll be prepping the cars for tomorrow.”
Blade Hildebrand: “It’s the first part of the marathon stage today so I backed down a little bit. Just like 10 or 15 percent. You’ve got to do what you can to look after the car on a stage like this. We had minimal issues with the car today. We’ll be able to get everything done that needs to get done tonight. Then tomorrow we’ll head out for the second part of the marathon stage.”
Cyril Despres: “Four days ago I bet one dollar to Blade and one dollar to Mitch that they will win at least four stages. They were laughing, but I told them that we have a lot of knowledge from the first week. The car has been modified to make it better for these stages in the second week. Engine, chassis, suspension, tyre pressure, etc… All of this has improved because of the knowledge we now have. That’s why I knew lots more stage wins were coming.”
“I was able to coach the guys in the days leading up to this marathon stage. I gave them some advice on what food, what clothes to bring. Where they will sleep and what they will eat. How to plan the mechanical work. I told them what I know and they were really paying attention. From day one they have been listening, but yesterday they were even more focused.”
Jean Marc Fortin, Overdrive CEO: “The whole team had to work such long hours at the beginning of this Dakar, not much sleep. It was a tough start to our first Dakar. I’m so proud of the team that we got through those difficult days. Now we’ve proven that we have the speed and secondly we have some young talents that are now shining in the eyes of experienced cross-country people.”
“I know a lot of the drivers in other teams at the Dakar. These guys have very high standards and it’s these drivers who have been coming up to me to say how impressed they are with Blade and Mitch.”
Jean Marc Schmit, OT3 Technical Director: “The results we’re enjoying now are down to the hard work we’ve been putting in since arriving here. Now we’re coming close to the end, but the rally is not finished yet. We want to keep improving until the end of the last stage. This is the most difficult rally in the world so there is nowhere better to test what can be improved on our car.”
“We’re using the kilometres to discover any problems the car has. OK, we’ve discovered quite a few things that can be improved. It helps us to develop the package for the future. What we can be pleased with is the performance that has given us these stage wins.”