Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez made history at the 30th anniversary edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as she gained enough points in the T3 category to become the first-ever female driver to win the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title.
Here is all you need to know:
- Gutiérrez and co-driver François Cazalet (FRA) combined for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team to fight back from two tricky opening stages and gain enough points to put themselves beyond the reach of compatriot Fernando Alvarez for an historic, maiden title.
- Earlier this year the Spanish racer had become the first woman to win a stage of the Dakar Rally since Jutta Kleinschmidt's last stage win in 2005 and she followed that feat up with an emotionally charged victory in her native Spain at May's Andalucia Rally and Rally Kazakhstan win in June.
- She sustained three broken vertebrae during the final Kazakhstan stage and, after two months of intense recovery, she returned to win more precious championship points at Rallye du Maroc last month.
- The 30-year-old said: "We are world champions! I can't believe it. After such a hard year I've had, I can't be happier. The first couple of stages in particular were not easy. Finally we managed to find a good pace and avoid mistakes, and took important points for the championship. These races are so long so it's difficult to always be at the front on every stage."
- Fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team crews Seth Quintero (USA)/Dennis Zenz (GER) and Guillaume De Mevius (BEL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) also competed with Quintero retiring on Tuesday due to a stiff neck and De Mevius continuing the mission to prepare their 2022 spec OT3 for Dakar.
Cristina Gutiérrez: “We are World Champions! I can’t believe it, after such a hard year I’ve had, I can’t be happier. I have no words! Thank you all for your love and support, thank you to my family for always sending me the best energy! Thanks to all the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team for a great job and thank you to my co-driver François Cazalet for a great year! This is rally-raid and you need to keep your speed all the time. These races are so long so it’s difficult to always be at the front on every stage. It was important to us to make sure we scored as many points as possible.”