Meet Guiga Spinelli, Driver, X Team Racing
He won’t be the best-known newcomer to casual fans, but don’t discount Guilherme “Guiga” Spinelli (in right of photo) at this weekend’s Global Rallycross event at X Games Barcelona.
Spinelli is one of Brazil’s most accomplished off-road drivers, winning in both stage rally and rally raid events, and is a frequent competitor in the prestigious Dakar Rally. He’ll also be behind the wheel of the X Team Racing Mitsubishi Evo, the same car that Nelson Piquet Jr. qualified fourth at X Games Foz do Iguacu.
In advance of his Global Rallycross debut, Spinelli sat down to talk about his career accomplishments, his interest in the series, and why X Games was the right place to make his debut:
For fans who may not yet be familiar with you, tell us a little bit about yourself. What are some of your greatest accomplishments so far?
I’m a 4 time Brazilian rally raid champion. I’m a 4 time Sertões Rally champion (the biggest rally raid in Brazil – 5.000 km and 10 days). Two times I’ve finished in the top 10 in Dakar Rally (2nd place petrol category and 3rd place petrol category). And I’m a two time Brazilian Rally Championship champion.
What first made you interested in racing in Global Rallycross?
It’s a nice format, mixing rally drive style with a king of race in circuit. Also because the cars are very fast with very good performance. Sure it’s nice to drive and amazing race style.
You’ve been driving in the Dakar Rally for the past half-decade. What sorts of driving skills and techniques can you transfer from desert racing to rallycross?
Not a lot. Dakar is very different kind of rally, a lot of different kind of tracks plus biggest part in desert. And we just pass one time everywhere… never repeat the same corner. But I’m also a rally driver and raced many times with Lancer Evo, the same car that I’ll race GRC. So this GRC style of circuit is similar to a super prime in rally. The techniques to push on the limit comparing super prime rally and GRC is the same.
You’re continuing your relationship with Mitsubishi by driving for X Team Racing at X Games. What are you looking forward to the most about driving for them?
I’ve worked for Mitsubishi Motors Brazil since 2000. I’m a race driver and also Mitsubishi’s motorsports director in Brazil. Now our priority focus for my driver side is continuous pushing to a podium in Dakar and win more Sertões Rallies (we won 4 times) and other rallies around the world. And the new challenge is to have a top team in GRC with X Team Racing.
Have you had any seat time in the car in preparation for Barcelona? What are your thoughts on how it handles? If not, have you discussed it with Nelson Piquet after Brazil?
No, I didn’t drive the car yet. But I know the technical specification and also discussed with Nelsinho and the team manager (Geraldo) a lot. In Barcelona I’ll have a discussion also with the engineer. But I know the car is fast, ease to drive and has the same transmission package from all Lancer Evo X. I have good experience with Lancer Evo from the XI edition until the X edition.
X Games rounds are some of the most prestigious on the Global Rallycross schedule. What are your thoughts on getting to make your debut at one of these events?
It’ll be more exciting because the X Games event is a top extreme event in the world. So, I know we will be close to top athletic people and crazy competition in radical sports. So, it’s the top event to debut in.
When all is said and done, do you have any goals and expectations for your result in Barcelona? Are you hoping to run more races after this one?
Sure, I’m very curious to understand my performance compared to others drivers and teams. I don’t have any idea about our result possibilities but I’ll try to do my best to have the best result. I’m really hoping to do more X Games/GRC races this year, I need also to find the dates in which I don’t have compromises with rally raid events.
Photo credit: Theo Ribeiro