Back-to-back stage wins get second week at 2020 Dakar started for Red Bull Off-Road Team USA
The pace of the 2020 Dakar Rally shows no signs of letting up for Red Bull Off-Road Team USA. The team has come charging out of the blocks following the rest day, winning both opening stages of the rally’s second week.
Stage 8 saw Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) and co-driver Ola Floene (NOR) with the quickest side-by-side stage time of their debut Dakar. The duo set the tempo across the 477-kilometre loop stage around the Wadi Al-Dawasir bivouac.
“Stage wins are a great way to pick up moral in the team so to get this result today is great. The team has been working so hard since we got here.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
Guthrie Jr.’s result is the fourth stage win for the OT3 by Overdrive at the 2020 Dakar in Saudi Arabia. Today’s victory was very much a team affair given the selfless overnight act by the squad’s mentor crew of Cyril Despres (FRA) and Mike Horn (SUI). Guthrie Jr. was forced to retire from Stage 7 due to mechanical failure. Despres donated his own engine so Guthrie Jr. could continue his race in the Dakar Experience class.
“This is why Mike and myself are in this team. We not here to put on a show of coaching, we are here to do the real thing. Our first priority is to help these young guys reach the finish line at this Dakar and we’ll do all we can to make sure this happens.” – Cyril Despres
Despres’ 20th Dakar may have come to an premature end, but not before he made history. The five-time Dakar winner is now the only competitor in all Dakar win stages across three categories (bike, car and side-by-side). Horn can also look back on a successful Dakar debut, reading pacenotes for he and Despres’ win on Stage 5.
“To see Mitch arrive back at the bivouac with the biggest smile on his face after winning Stage 8 is fantastic. Cyril and myself are sharing in these moments of joy and glory.” – Mike Horn
Blade Hildebrand (USA) and co-driver Francois Cazalet (FRA) have also played their part in the team’s success so far at this Dakar. Hildebrand put a tough first week in Saudi Arabia behind him to win Stage 7 with a clear run. Hildebrand’s performance on the 546-kilometre timed special stage between Riyadh and Wadi Al-Dawasir was one of pure speed putting his closest opponent 11 minutes behind his mark.
After a frustrating Stage 8, Hildebrand is now targeting more stage wins on the four days of racing that remain at the 2020 Dakar.
“I know the guys are going to do a great job again on the car tonight. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” – Blade Hildebrand
On Stage 9 all five Dakar categories will head east across Saudi Arabia to Haradh. A monster distance of 891 kilometres must be travelled, including a 415-kilometre special stage.
The 2020 Dakar finishes on Friday, January 17 in Al-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
2020 Dakar Rally Side-by-side Race Stage 8 Top 3
1. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA)/Ola Floene (NOR) OT3 04h48m15s
2. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am +02:27
3. Chaleco Lopez/Juan Pablo Latrach Vinagre (CHI) Can-Am +02:49
Mitch Guthrie Jr.: “It was a really good day and to have it off the back of yesterday where we had a mechanical feels great. Thankfully, last night Cyril gave me his motor out of his car so I was able to continue. That was an amazing gesture. Now we’re in the Dakar Experience class so the aim is to pick up more of these stage wins.”
“Stage wins are a great way to pick up moral in the team so to get this result today is great. The team has been working so hard since we got here. We were able to help out Blade on the stage today. Unfortunately he had an issue with his car and got stuck on the stage. I was able to pull over real quick and he was ready for me with the tow rope. It only took a minute or two to pull him out of the sand and then he came in just after me. Blade’s done a lot for me this rally so it was the least I could do.”
Cyril Despres: “Yesterday when we stopped for Mitch we stayed there long enough to really find out what was going on with his engine. We got going again in our car and it was silent between Mike and me. I then had to tell Mike that this was the end of the race for us. I wouldn’t have been comfortable carrying on with Mitch out of the race, we had to give Mitch our engine. Simple as that. Of course Mike totally understood when I explained this to him.”
“This is why Mike and myself are in this team. We not here to put on a show of coaching, we are here to do the real thing. Our first priority is to help these guys reach the finish line at this Dakar and we’ll do all we can to make sure this happens.”
Mike Horn: “What an amazing moment for Mitch to come in first. To show that the gesture of us giving our engine to someone that can win and that appreciates it. That makes it all worth it. It’s just another detail of why this whole program is so interesting. We are the older guys and the younger ones are in a position to perform well. You’ve got to give them every opportunity you can. To see Mitch arrive back at the bivouac with the biggest smile on his face after winning Stage 8 is fantastic. Cyril and myself are sharing in these moments of joy and glory.”
Blade Hildebrand: “We were unlucky with our left front axle breaking early on Stage 8 so that gave us three-wheel drive for most of the stage. Then the other side broke from being so fatigued so it was two-wheel drive for the last 100 kilometres. For this to happen on the toughest sand dunes I’ve ever faced had me really learning on the job, figuring out the best way to surf the terrain.”
“At one point I came over a hill and a Kamaz truck was stuck right there so I locked up on the brakes. When this happened we had to wait for Mitch to come around and give us a tug out real quick. I know the guys are going to do a great job again on the car tonight. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”