Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (ESP) for Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing seen at the finish line stage 12 of Rally Dakar 2024 from YANBU to YANBU, Saudi Arabia on January 19, 2024. // Flavien Duhamel

Dakar 2024 Results: Cristina Gutiérrez Makes History in Challenger Class

Published: Saturday January 20 2024
Cristina Gutiérrez made history by winning the Dakar Rally and becoming the first woman in 23 years to secure this prestigious title. Triumphing in the Challenger category during stage 12 alongside co-driver Pablo Moreno, the Spaniard staged an impressive comeback, overcoming a 25-minute deficit behind Mitch Guthrie Jr. with unmatched determination.

The disqualification of Eryk Goczał and his uncle Michał, as well as the withdrawal of his father Marek, completely changed the fight for the title in the Challenger class. On the evening of the rest day, Mitch Guthrie found himself in the lead in the general rankings, twenty minutes ahead of Cristina Gutiérrez, his nearest pursuer. With a win on stage 7 and a podium finish the following day, Guthrie was managing to maintain a sufficient time cushion to control the race up to the end of the rally and the victory which seemed within his grasp. After all, it would have been no less than a fair reward for the man who developed the initial version of the Taurus T3 Max.

However, as the saying goes, the race is never over until the last finishing line has been crossed and it proved to be true once again in the most unpredictable manner. Guthrie only had 174 kilometres left to cover to succeed his countryman Austin Jones on the Dakar throne, but this was without taking into account the mechanical problem that occurred just seven kilometres into the special. Helped by his co-pilot Kellon Walch, he managed to resume racing, but his lead soon dropped to a little more than 1’30’’. This heavy toll rapidly became heavier as the stage went on, on a special that soon turned in Gutiérrez’s favour. “If something happens behind you, you never know… I pushed myself until the finish,” explained the Spaniard. “One of my values is to never give up”. Guthrie tried to save the day, but the transmission of his Taurus decided otherwise.

He eventually reached the finish more than half an hour after his rival and will have to console himself with the second place on the final podium, which was completed by Rokas Baciuška who, one year ago, lost the Dakar in similar circumstances in the SSV category. Gutiérrez has become the second woman to win a title on the Dakar following Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was the quickest of the elite cars in 2001.