Seth Quintero set a Dakar Rally record for victories Thursday by winning Stage 11 of the 2022 event.
The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver won the 501-kilometer loop around Bisha, Saudia Arabia, by more than 15 minutes in his OT3-02, marking his ninth consecutive stage victory in light prototype and 11th overall.
The San Marcos, California, native broke the Dakar single-rally stage win record set by Pierre Lartigue during a 17-stage event in 1994 — more than eight years before Quintero, 19, was born.
DAKAR RALLY ON NBC: How to watch nightly coverage at the Olympic Channel
“It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Quintero said on the Dakar website. “Every day has just been an adventure in itself and I’ve just been trying to take it day-by-day. (Co-driver and navigator) Dennis (Zenz) has done an absolutely amazing job. I think I’ve been doing OK myself.
“It’s just been quite the adventure. For sure, Stage 2 definitely crosses my mind quite a bit, especially after a race, especially after a win, actually. It always crossed my mind that on Stage 2 if we had 30 less kilometers on that stage, we’d be looking pretty good right now.
After winning the prologue and Stage 1, Quintero’s vehicle suffered a broken differential that left him 16 hours off the overall lead in light prototype. Though it left him out of class title contention, Quintero has won every stage since the mechanical failure, which he credits for changing his mentality and racing with more abandon.
“I could have been driving differently on these last 10 stages, and we might not have got any wins,” Quintero said. “I think it was a blessing in disguise. It took a lot of pressure off us, and I really just had a lot of fun for all the Dakar. We are now the sole record holder for the most stage wins on a single Dakar which is absolutely mind-blowing.
“We came here trying to break the record of being the youngest to ever win a Dakar but in the end we’ve broken another record. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait on the other record, but we’ll be back next year.”
It’s the second consecutive year that Quintero has set a Dakar Rally record. As a rookie last year, the teenager became the youngest stage winner in the endurance race’s 40-year history.
“Hopefully, next year we can break the record of being the youngest ever overall winner,” he said. “We’re just trying to break a few records, I guess.”
Heavy is the head that wears the crown … or in this case, the neck that is adorned with medals from @Dakar stage victories!
— Motorsports on NBC (@MotorsportsNBC) January 13, 2022
Elsewhere in Stage 11 of the 2022 Dakar Rally, which will conclude Friday :
–In the car category, Carlos Sainz notched the second consecutive stage victory for Team Audi (which also took third with Mattias Ekstrom in its electric hybrid).
“I’m happy with this stage,” said Sainz, who was 12th overall after his second stage victory this year. “It was a really difficult stage, and it had everything: camel grass, dunes, dunes, navigation, riverbeds and stones, so it was a really complete stage and quite difficult to open on.”
Stage 11 – 🚗
🥇 Carlos Sainz
🥈 Lucio Alvarez
🥉 Mattias Ekstrom
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 13, 2022
With a seventh-place finish, three-time Dakar Rally champion Nasser Al-Attiyah continued to hold the overall lead by more than 33 minutes over Sebastien Loeb (who received a time penalty Thursday and placed eighth).
“We are in a good way,” Al-Attiyah said. “Tomorrow is a shorter stage. We just need to continue like this on the same pace. It is very important to win this race.
“It’s been good. From the beginning, we have been leading every day we have been gaining time. To control the Dakar is not easy, but I think we have a lot of experience now and we just need to manage the situation and to finish. You don’t need to win every day. We won on Day 1 and made a good time day by day until the rest day, when we were around forty-five minutes ahead. Now we just need to be really careful all the way, and this is what we’ll do.”
–A day after a mechanical failure ended his hope of defending his 2021 class title, Kevin Benavides won Stage 11 in the bike category.
Sam Sunderland retook the overall class lead while 2020 Dakar Rally bike winner Ricky Brabec finished fifth in the stage to improve to sixth overall, tops among American riders.
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 13, 2022
–In SSV, Gerard Farres Guell reclaimed first overall from Austin Jones, who battled transmission problems and fell 1 minute, 41 seconds off the lead with a sixth in Stage 11 of the 2022 Dakar Rally after starting with a lead of over 12 minutes.
“This day was definitely the hardest so far,” said Jones, who is trying to become the youngest American to win a Dakar class. “We lost the front diff with about 100 kilometers to go, so we were on two-wheel drive and we had to get out and fix that and then we had to get through all those big dunes. Basically, all the rest of the stuff was two-wheel drive. It wasn’t too easy, but we made it, obviously, and we only gave up however much time we’ve lost. We’re not in a bad spot for the last day, so we’ll see what we can do. Chasing definitely makes it a little bit harder. The Dakar is extremely cruel. We have just got to stay positive. It’s definitely stressful. It’s not a good feeling, but anything can happen, so we’ll see”.
Here are the stage winners and the top three overall in each category after Stage 11 of the 2022 Dakar Rally:
Stage 11 winner: Carlos Sainz (ESP), 3:29:32. Overall: 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 36:49:51; 2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Extreme, 37:23:10; 3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU), Overdrive Toyota, 37:53:34.
Stage 11 winner: Kevin Benavides (ARG), 3:30:56; Overall: 1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GasGas Factory Racing, 37:04:05; 2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Monster Energy Honda, 37:10:57; 3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 37:11:20. Other U.S. notables: 6. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda, 37:41:29; 8. Andrew Short, Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 37:47:45; 9. Mason Klein, BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, 37:55:14. Withdrew: Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing.
Stage 11 winner: Teruhito Sugawara (JPN), 2:47:40. Overall: 1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), Kamaz-Master 39:54:53; 2. Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 40:03:11; 3. Anton Shibalov (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 40:59:43.
Stage 11 winner: Seth Quintero (USA), 3:57:53. Overall: 1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL), EKS — South Racing, 43:56:34; 2. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE), EKS — South Racing, 44:52:10; 3. Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (ESP), Red Bull Off-Road Team USA, 48:27:56. Notable: 12. Seth Quintero (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA, 58:40:26.
Stage 11 winner: Marek Goczal (POL), 4:13:12. Overall: 1. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 45:24:07; 2. Austin Jones (USA), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 45:25:48; 3. Michal Goczal (POL), Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team, 45:42:06.
Stage 11 winner: Marcelo Medeiros (BRA), 4:53:29. Overall: 1. Alexandre Giroud (FRA), Yamaha Racing – SMX -Drag’on, 47:26:25; 2. Francisco Moreno (ARG), Drag’on Rally Team, 50:07:49; 3. Kamil Wisniewski (POL), Orlen Team, 50:11:20.