Prodrive is aiming to run Cristina Gutiérrez on the 2022 Dakar Rally in a BRX Hunter alongside regular drivers Sébastien Loeb and Nani Roma.
The 29-year-old Spanish driver joined Prodrive to contest this year’s Extreme E series with the X44 team. Prodrive chairman David Richards was the man who discovered Gutiérrez and was so impressed he signed her on a five-year deal.
Richards told DirtFish: “She’s very talented. She’s intelligent and a great team player. We really have taken to Cristina enormously and the aim is to have her in one of our cars in Dakar next year. We’re working on that right now.”
Competing in last weekend’s Extreme E opener, Gutiérrez finished third in the final with her fellow driver Sébastien Loeb.
Gutiérrez has competed in the last five Dakars, becoming the first Spanish lady driver to finish the event and winning stages in her class.
Richards added the relationship between the two X44 racers was developing well. “They have a great rapport. He [Loeb] has taken her under his wing and she has accepted that – she told me she’s “learning from the maestro”.
“This can only strengthen the team. The plan is for Cristina to come over in the summer to test the [Dakar] car and we want her involved in the program looking forwards towards next year.”
Gutiérrez admitted she was loving working with Loeb. She told DirtFish: “This is fantastic for me to work with him and learn from him. Also, I spoke with Lewis [Hamilton, X44 team owner] and he makes me very happy to speak with him because for me he’s a legend.
It was our first race together with a lot of rivals in front [and] around and finally we saw that Cristina is very fastSébastien Loeb on Gutiérrez
“He gave me a lot of advice, a lot of tips of what to do in the race, how to see in the race and I’m very happy to be a part of this team.”
Richards admitted he was impressed with Loeb’s attitude towards Extreme E.
“Can you imagine,” said Richards, “here is this guy who has been used to driving on his own for so long – yes he’s had team-mates, but now his whole result relies upon how competent his partner is in this. I’ve watched him and I think this has been good for him as well.”
A power-steering issue hindered the X44 team’s progress in the AlUla final, but Loeb was still pleased with what he saw from his fellow driver in Saudi Arabia.
“I’m really happy at the end of the weekend,” said Loeb. “The main thing is that we showed that together we can be fighting for the win and this is something we didn’t really know.
“It was our first race together with a lot of rivals in front [and] around and finally we saw that Cristina is very fast. She scored, sometimes, the best time of the women, I was fast also so I think we are a good team and we have good chances for the other races.”