Cristina Gutiérrez Makes History with Challenger Class Dakar Rally Title

Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez made history by winning the Dakar Rally and becoming the first woman in 23 years to secure this prestigious title, when she won in the Challenger category after stage 12. Gutiérrez is pictured during Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally 2024 race, from Al Duwadimi to Hail, in Saudi Arabia on 15 Januray, 2024. Photo: Flavien Duhamel / Red Bull Content Pool

History was made on Friday’s final stage of the 46th Dakar Rally when Cristina Gutiérrez became the first woman to win a Dakar title since Jutta Kleinschmidt in 2001, when the Spaniard and her Challenger class co-driver Pablo Moreno overcame a 25-minute deficit to win her first Dakar title by 36m46s.

Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA’s Gutiérrez finished ahead of multiple-stage leader, American Mitch Guthrie Jr., who with co-driver Kellon Walch had the misfortune of coming to a standstill twice on the final stage in their T3 Taurus Factory Team car.

Early race leader, Lithuanian Rokas Baciuška, finished the top three positions in third place for the Can-Am Factory team.

“I always try to fight until the finish. We didn’t know what had happened until the last kilometres. We pushed a lot on this stage because I knew that 25 minutes is a lot, but if something happens behind you, you never know.”

Cristina Gutiérrez, Dakar Rally 2024 Challenger Class Champion

The 46th Dakar Rally promised 5,000km of intense racing over 12 days, and the Challenger car class looked set for a fascinating tussle with Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team racer Cristina Gutiérrez in an encouraging third in her class, at the end of the 414 km first stage from Alula to Al Henakiya.

Gutiérrez maintained her third-placed general classification ranking through the 463km second and 438km third stages, but the fourth stage presented greater challenges, and a 15-min penalty lead to a 16th finisher place, dropping her to fourth place in the general standings. 

The 645 km stage 5 saw Gutiérrez cross the finish line in seventh, and dropping another place overall to fifth in standings, but the Spanish team made good amends in the race’s monster 835 km stage six, for their first stage win, pushing them up to second place in the overall standings.

Leading finishes in stages seven and eight saw the fast-charging Spanish racer maintain her second-placed overall standings.

Day 12’s stage 9 faced the overall leaders with navigation riddles with a host of hidden waypoints that made it difficult to keep things on track, but they defended their positions over the 417-kilometre timed special stage between Ha’il and AlUla, and Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez finished fourth, closing the gap to Challenger leader, the USA’s Guthrie.

Gutiérrez took another 32 seconds out of the American Mitch Guthrie Jr.’s Challenger class lead in the stage 10’s 371km circular route from and to Al Ula, where she reduced the American’s lead to just less than 30 minutes, and then eeked a few more precious second out of Guthrie’s lead over stage 11’s 420km, which set up the opportunity for her hard-earned title win in the final day’s racing.

Saudi Arabian off-road women’s champ Dania Akeel, another woman in the Dakar Rally 2024’s T3 Challenger class, finished the race in 27th place.

2024 Dakar Rally Leading Final Standings for the Challenger Car Race

1. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP) 53h 59m 47s
2. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) +36m 46s
3. Rokas Baciuška (LTU) +58m 47s
4. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL) +1h 11m 20s
5. Austin Jones (USA) +1h 44m 47s


Main Photo Caption: Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez made history by winning the Dakar Rally and becoming the first woman in 23 years to secure this prestigious title, when she won in the Challenger category after stage 12. Gutiérrez is pictured during Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally 2024 race, from Al Duwadimi to Hail, in Saudi Arabia on 15 January, 2024. Photo: Flavien Duhamel / Red Bull Content Pool

Photo 2 Caption: Red Bull’s Gutiérrez and co-driver Pablo Moreno staged an impressive comeback, overcoming a 25-minute deficit to overhaul race leader, the USA’s Mitch Guthrie Jr., on the final stage of the iconic 12-stage desert race. Photo: Flavien Duhamel / Red Bull Content Pool

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