Dakar Rally 2022, Stage 11: Seth Quintero sets record with 11th victory in light prototype

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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.

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“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.

Seth Quintero (Red Bull)

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.”

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.”

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.

–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:

Car

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.

Bike

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.

Truck

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.

Light prototype

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.

SSV

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.

Quad

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.


PAST RECAPS

DAY 1Nasser Al-Attiyah takes overall lead as Audi drivers struggle

DAY 2Sebastien Loeb wins; Austin Jones takes SSV lead

DAY 3Led by Seth Quintero’s rebound victory, U.S. drivers and riders shine

DAY 4Overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah wins stage after penalty

DAY 5Petrucci becomes first MotoGP veteran to win bike stage at Dakar

DAY 6Quintero continues impressive win streak in lightweight prototype

DAY 7Loeb wins in overall; Jones retakes SSV lead

DAY 8DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom wins first stage

DAY 9: Americans charging as Seth Quintero nears win record

DAY 10: Quintero ties record; Peterhansel wins for Audi

Alexander Rossi ‘fits like a glove’ with his new IndyCar teammates at Arrow McLaren Racing

Alexander Rossi McLaren
Nate Ryan
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – There are more than three dozen fresh faces on the Arrow McLaren Racing IndyCar team, but there was one that Felix Rosenqvist was particularly keen to know – Alexander Rossi.

The driver of the No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet is the most high-profile new hire for McLaren, which has expanded to a third car to pair with the No. 6 of Rosenqvist and No. 5 of Pato O’Ward.

And there is another layer than Rossi just being the new kid. McLaren marks only his second team in NTT IndyCar Series after seven seasons at Andretti Autosport, where he began with a victory in the 2016 Indy 500 and was a championship contender for several seasons.

Rossi is a mercurial talent, and when things go wrong, the red mist quickly descends (and sometimes has led to feuds with teammates). He went winless during two of his final seasons at Andretti and was out of contention more often than not, often bringing out the prickly side of his personality.

Yet there has been no trace of the dour Rossi since joining McLaren. The pragmatic Californian is quick to remind everyone he hasn’t worked with the team yet at a track (much less been in its car), and there surely will be times he gets frustrated.

But it’s clear that Rossi, who made five Formula One starts in 2015 after several years racing in Europe, already is meshing well with an organization whose England-based parent company has deep roots in F1.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” Rosenqvist said Tuesday during IndyCar’s preseason media availabilities. “I think Alex kind of has that bad-guy role a little bit in IndyCar. He’s always been that guy, which is cool. I think we need those guys, as well.

“Actually having gotten to know him, he’s been super nice, super kind. He fits like a glove in the team. I think it fills a role where Pato is kind of like the crazy guy, I’m somewhere in the middle, and Alex is the more engineering guy in the team. I think Alex has more experience, as well. He just feels like a guy who knows what he wants.

“Yeah, good addition to the team and great guy at the same time.”

There are many reasons why Rossi’s transition from Andretti to McLaren should be smoother than his abrupt move from F1 to IndyCar seven years ago. Namely, he no longer is the only newcomer to the team’s culture.

“It’s been kind of a good time to come in because everyone is finding a new role and position and kind of learning who’s who, finding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

But while Rossi might have questions about the team, he has none about the series. Unlike when he arrived at Andretti without any oval experience, Rossi joins McLaren with his IndyCar credentials secured as an established star with eight victories, seven poles and 28 podiums over 114 starts.

Even in his swan song with Andretti, Rossi still managed a farewell victory last July at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course that snapped a 49-race, three-year winless drought. It seems reasonable to believe he immediately could re-emerge in his 2017-19 title contender form.

“I know the series, and I know kind of everything that goes into American open-wheel racing vs. the European open-wheel racing, which is really the biggest transition,” Rossi said. “Certainly it’s the largest kind of team switch. I’ve obviously driven for different teams in the past in Europe, in sports cars, whatever, but never really in my full-time job. I’ve driven for the same organization for a very long time and have a lot of respect and fabulous memories with those people.

“So it has been a big kind of shift, trying to compare and contrast areas that I can bring kind of recommendations and experience to maybe help fill the gaps that exist at Arrow McLaren. Again, all of this is in theory, right? I don’t really know anything. We’ll have a much better idea and plan going into St. Pete (the March 5 season opener).”

He has gotten a good handle on how things work at its Indianapolis headquarters, though, and has been pleased by the leadership of new racing director Gavin Ward (who worked in F1 before a championship stint with Josef Newgarden at Team Penske). McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown also seems omnipresent on both sides of the Atlantic, making appearances at IndyCar races seemingly as much as in the F1 paddock.

“I think what’s very cool about Arrow McLaren is we do have the resources of the McLaren F1 team,” Rossi said. “They very much are being integrated in a lot of respects. It’s not two separate entities. McLaren Racing is one organization that has its people and resources and intellect in kind of everything. It’s been pretty cool to see how that can be an advantage to us in terms of people, resources, simulations, software, kind of everything. We’ve been able to kind of rely on that and use that as a tool that maybe other teams certainly don’t have.”

That will be helpful for Rossi with the methodologies and nuances of racing a Chevrolet for the first time after seven seasons with Honda.

And of course, there will be the relationship with O’Ward, who has been McLaren’s alpha star since 2020.

Rossi was in a similar role for Andretti, which raises questions about how McLaren will handle having two stars accustomed to being the face of the team. But O’Ward said IndyCar regulations should allow each driver to maintain their own style without being forced to adapt as in other series.

“At the end of the day, as much as teammates will help in order to gather data, it doesn’t mean they’re going to specifically help you in what you need because it’s a series where you can really tailor the car to what you want,” O’Ward said. “Rather than in Formula 1, (it’s) ‘This is the car, you need to learn how to drive this certain car.’ In IndyCar, it’s very different where you can customize it to what you want it to feel like or drive like.

“From past experience, I think Alex likes a car similar to what I do. I do think we have a very strong car in certain areas, but I definitely think he’s coming from a car where that other car has been stronger than us in other racetracks. I feel like if we can just find gains where we haven’t quite had a winning car, a podium car, that’s just going to help all of us.”

Though Thursday at The Thermal Club will mark the first time the trio works together at a track, Rosenqvist said he’s hung out a lot with Rossi (both are 31 years old) and deems his new teammate “well-integrated” in the simulator.

“I think the fit has been good with him, me and Pato,” Rosenqvist said. “On a trackside perspective, it’s obviously huge to have always a third opinion on things. Every driver’s opinion is valuable in its own way.”

Said O’Ward, 23: “It’s been great. (Rossi has) been great to have around. I think he needed a fresh start. I think he’s excited to really work with all of us, create the strongest package.”

Ever the realist, though, Rossi still is tempering some of his enthusiasm.

“Again, we haven’t really done anything yet other than some meetings and some team activities together,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done in IndyCar and also their prior careers. I think that we all bring something a little bit different to the table, which I think is really unique in terms of not only personalities but driving styles and experience levels.

“I think we have the ingredients to really be able to develop the team and continue to push the team forward to even a better level than what they’ve shown in the past. It’s been a really positive experience. Really I have nothing at all negative to say and can’t actually wait to get to work, get on track and start working together.”