Seth Quintero has joined TOYOTA GAZOO Racing to tackle the 2024 Dakar Rally in the elite T1+ car class with the young Californian handed the keys to a Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ alongside Brazilian Lucas Moraes as the Japanese team aims for a third consecutive victory at the Dakar. Here is all you need to know:
– The legendary Japanese manufacturer has won the past two T1+ races at the Dakar through Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Frenchman Mathieu Baumel and, replacing them in this well-oiled machine, gives Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team graduate Quintero the best possible platform for success.
– Also in the saddle for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing on the January 5, 2024 start line will be Moraes, the surprise package of the last 2023 Dakar Rally, who earned a car podium spot in his rookie year.
– Quintero secured his shot behind the wheel of a 3.5-litre V6 twin turbo Hilux by winning the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) T3 title alongside co-driver Dennis Zenz and now the San Marco-born racer steps up from the T3 division to face-off against legends in the T1+ class at the Dakar.
– The 21-year-old revealed: “This whole year was one wild fight. I just kept my head down for every single kilometre, even when the kitchen sink was being thrown. I’m addicted to progression, obsessed by it, and this step up to T1+ is all I’ve been thinking about for a while. I always had raw speed over short stints, but now I’ve learned to hang on for two weeks at a time.”
– Quintero will race his Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+ car for the first time this weekend at the Dubai International Baja (November 10–12) and then comes the true test of his skills at the 2024 Dakar Rally. If he wins, he will be the T1+ division’s youngest-ever winner and its first American winner.
– Teaming up with Quintero will be 32-year-old Moraes who – after victories at the Rally dos Sertões in his native Brazil marked him out as a special talent – delivered on this promise as a privateer with Overdrive Racing on his 2023 Dakar Rally debut when he became the first Brazilian to climb the T1+ podium.
– Moraes became the first driver under 40 years old to park on the Dakar’s car race podium for over a decade with only three drivers under 40 winning the Dakar in the past three decades. Now Moraes and co-driver Armand Monleon will represent TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at the next edition.
– Quintero and Zenz were part of the first intake of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team programme, which was launched ahead of the 2020 Dakar with the goal of promoting the next generation to the top class.
– In four years, the programme has already delivered a crop of young, hungry and talented drivers such as Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez and American Mitch Guthrie Jr. to the cusp of competing in Dakar’s premier class.
– The Junior Team programme places drivers and co-drivers in the T3 and T4 categories, providing them with a professional platform to compete at iconic races with the programme’s most recent success including a dominant 1-2-3 result in the T3 class of this year’s Dakar, plus the 2023 W2RC.
– Following Quintero stepping up to the big leagues in 2024, fellow Junior Team driver Gutiérrez – who made her Dakar debut in 2017 – will join Dacia to compete in the T1+ class at the 2025 Dakar Rally.
– TOYOTA GAZOO Racing wrapped up 2023 with titles in the World Rally-Raid Championship, World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship with their focus soon on the 2024 Dakar Rally that will start from Saudi Arabia’s thousand-year-old city of Al-Ula on January 5, 2024.
– The entire convoy will be plunged into a fog of exhaustion for a fortnight with daily stage distances of up to 500km across inhospitable terrain before the chequered flag flies in Yanbu on January 19, 2024.