Dubai International Baja: Successful maiden outing for Seth and Dennis
• Competitive stage times set by Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz
• Learning experience for the crew, making the leap to the GR DKR Hilux T1+
• Solid results by other Toyota Hilux crews
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s new signing, Seth Quintero, partnered with German co-driver, Dennis Zenz, took part in the final round of the FIA's World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas in Dubai this weekend. This was the American driver's first outing in the Dakar-winning GR DKR Hilux T1+, and he quickly showed his pace, posting highly competitive stage times right from the start. Were it not for a rear differential problem during the final stage, Seth and Dennis may well have recorded a Top 5 finish during their first race with TGR.
The sixth edition of the Dubai International Baja was Round 7 of this year's World Cup, as before, its headquarters were located in Festival City. The event consisted of three competitive stages, with stage distances of 2 km, 168 km and 168 km respectively.
Seth and Dennis started the event in fine form, setting the third-fastest time over the short opening stage of 2 km. Their time of 2min 00.7sec was just 4.2 sec behind the stage winners, and a scant 1.8 sec slower than the second-fastest team of Yazeed Al Rajhi and Timo Gottschalk, in their privately-entered Toyota Hilux T1+.
Stage 2 brought an even better result for the TGR crew, as they set the second-fastest time of the day. Their total time over the 168 km stage, which consisted of two separate 'legs', came to 2hr 44min 08.7 sec - just 54.6 sec behind the winners, and more than 6 min clear of Yazeed and Timo, who posted the third-fastest time.
There was disappointment, however, during the final stage of the event. Seth and Dennis initially matched the pace of the leaders, easily keeping up with Yazeed and Timo, who were the pick of the bunch early on. But a problem with the rear differential on the TGR GR DKR Hilux T1+ forced the works team to race in front-wheel-drive only. The pair soldiered on, but when the dunes became too big for the partially-driven wheels of their car, they elected to abandon the stage, incurring a two-hour penalty as a result.
This relegated them to 16th place in the final classification, though their pace throughout the event showed that their true potential was to finish much higher up the order. Yazeed and Timo finished in second place overall, after winning the final stage of the race. Another privately-entered Hilux T1+, in the hands of Juan Yacopini and Daniel Oliveras, rounded out the podium.
Yacopini's solid performance in Dubai capped a vintage year for the young Argentine driver. Not only did he finish second in the Desafio Ruta 40 earlier this year, but he also finished third overall in the FIA's World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), as well as fourth in the FIA's World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. Yazeed finish second in both instances.
This brings the 2023 Rally-Raid and Baja seasons to a close, and TGR has every reason to be proud, having again captured all three titles in the W2RC for the second successive season. Next up is the Dakar Rally, which is set to start early in January 2024, with significant testing and training leading up to the world's biggest rally-raid event.
Alain Dujardyn, TGR W2RC Team Principal: “Our visit to Dubai marks the start of our new Dakar and W2RC journey, with both Lucas and Seth joining us for a training session prior to the race. Seth and Dennis then logged their first competitive mileage in the GR DKR Hilux T1+, and we were very pleased with their pace. Were it not for the technical setback on the final day, they may well have placed significantly higher in the final standings. At the same time, I would like to thank the FIA, ASO and the broader rally-raid community for voicing their support of our new Dakar and W2RC chapter, giving young talent the opportunity to develop as part of a proven and successful factory team. Next, we will be giving Lucas and Armand the opportunity to compete, before the final tests leading up to Dakar 2024."
Seth Quintero: "We definitely didn't expect to be this competitive right from the beginning, but after the prologue we knew that we were only 4sec behind the best in the world. And then, in the first proper stage, we were leading at times, going back and forth at the head of the field. It was an amazing race, and we'd have loved to bring it home on the final stage. Unfortunately, we had a small mechanical problem that stopped us from challenging for a win, but overall, it is amazing that we were already in a position to consider victory."
2023 Dubai International Baja Final Results:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (AND), BRX Prodrive Hunter, 5hr 22min 52.3sec
2. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 5hr 28min 06.2sec
3. Juan Yacopini (ARG)/Dani Oliveras (ESP), Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 5hr 48min 35.9sec
4. João Ferreira (PRT)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT), Can-Am Maverick XRS, 5hr 48min 48.1sec
5. Otavio Sousa (BRA)/João Ferreira (PRT), Can-Am Maverick X3, 6hr 04min 05.5sec
6. Ronan Chabot (FRA)/Gilles Pillot (FRA), Toyota Hilux Overdrive, 6hr 07min 44.6sec
7. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Mota (PRT), Can-Am Maverick X3, 6hr 09min 34.9sec
8. Amerigo Ventura (ITA)/Mirko Brun (ITA), Yamaha YXZ 1000 R SS, 6hr 25min 42.2sec
9. Dania Akeel (SAU)/Taye Perry (DEU), Can-Am Maverick X3, 6hr 32min 50.3sec
10. Aliyyah Koloc (ARE)/Riann Greyling (ZAF), Red-Lined Revo T1+, 6hr 58min 19.4sec
16. Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (DEU), TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, 13hr 31min 09.4sec
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Two of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing W2RC's key sponsors, Red Bull and Eurol, have committed to share in the team's W2RC journey for 2023, supporting Nasser and Mathieu's efforts through TGR. Eurol is the Dutch developer and producer of lubricants, additives, cleaners, technical fluids and specialty products, available in over 90 countries worldwide. Innovation, quality and sustainability are core values of the Eurol brand. Eurol provides TOYOTA GAZOO Racing with the Eurol Specialty Racing line with SYNGIS Technology, for extreme high-performance levels under all circumstances.
Red Bull has established itself as the premiere supporter of extreme sports and athletes, and as such fits perfectly with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's Dakar and W2RC efforts. The Austrian energy drink manufacturer has partnered with Nasser, Mathieu and TGR over numerous years, and the involvement bore fruit when Nasser and Mathieu won a second Dakar title for TGR in January 2022.
The team is also supported by Jonsson Workwear and USN.