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Path to Brazil: Meet Eduardo Marques, Driver, XRC Team Brasil

April 16, 2013

The challenge of racing in Global Rallycross attracts some of the most skilled competitors from around the world, from action sports legends to veteran racing drivers. Eduardo Marques is a combination of both—not only has he run in numerous racing series, he’s also a prolific stunt driver in both movies and stunt shows.

Before returning to his native Brazil to make his Global Rallycross debut, Marques sat down with us to talk about his career, his car, and how his stunt driving skills translate to rallycross:

Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’ve done in your career so far.
My name is Eduardo Marques. I am originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I moved to the United States around 1999 to race open-wheel. The whole story is that I started in Brazil, a little older than usual for go-karts and open-wheel, but my family didn’t have many resources to do so. I went directly on to touring cars, 12 hour races, and endurance races, all of the different road racing with sports cars.

From there, the opportunity came in the format of open-wheel to get out of Brazil and become a professional driver—the best way possible at the time was with Champ Car. So I jumped into that, did Formula Ford and Formula Dodge in the United States, and worked my way up to Indy Lights for a test. I traveled with IndyCar for a year and a half, learning and testing, doing a lot as a test driver for the team. Then, unfortunately, September 11th came, and the dreams of coming into IndyCar went away from me, so I had to reinvent myself and do other things related to racing schools and sports car racing. I also did years of US military training as an instructor for special forces and a lot of different military groups.

I did a lot of off roading with Baja-type cars, but my biggest passion was always rally. I did in Brazil, back in the beginning, a lot of rallies, but rally was not that big in Brazil when I started in the late 1990s. So it was very difficult to do rally. Over here, when rally started to get a little more momentum, I started to get involved again, and I worked for three or four years as an instructor at a rally school, doing regional rallies and rallycross, and getting seat time wherever I could with that.

Then the opportunity came again from being in the rally scene to do stunt driving, and I got the opportunity with Walt Disney World to drive for the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, and I’ve been there now for six years. I also get the opportunity to do movies, commercials, and most recently I came back from Africa where I did two months on Mad Max: Fury Road as a stunt driver.

What inspired you to enter the Global Rallycross at X Games?
In 2007, I visited Vermont SportsCar and I was talking to them about trying to rally, getting equipment, and trying to do that. I realized, talking to a lot of people at Disney, doing a lot of special events for them, that rallycross would be a great format. And from the beginning, that’s what I wanted to do. It’s an amazing type of racing. Global Rallycross pushed the envelope with the big jumps and all the other elements they’re putting in. So it was natural—love at first sight. I really love the whole style of driving, mixed surface and driving sideways in any conditions. And all of the elements now, with the jumps and everything, it’s the most fun you can have in a race car for sure.

How do your stunt driving skills translate to rallycross?
A lot of it does. We have drifting all day long, especially in the stunt show at Disney. A lot of what we do is drifting. We also do very quick transitions, 180 and 90 degree turns with the handbrake, which is a lot of what we use in rally and rallycross. Also, the precision, because a lot of times, it’s not necessarily what looks good that is fastest—but we do both over there, so we’re able to practice both sides of the spectrum. Also, we drive a lot of big jumps in the show as well. We have a 30 foot gap and a couple of other jumps into airbags, so I’m a little bit used to the jumps. They’re not as big as the GRC jumps, but they’re going to be helpful because I’ve been jumping. We do two or three shows every day and we jump every show.

How much rallycross car testing have you done in the offseason?
It’s never enough! It’s not as much as I would like to, to get used to the cars and the tires, and all that. I did test the cars we’re driving in X Games Brazil a couple of months ago. It was actually a rally stage, with a different set of tires and different specs, but it gave me a good idea of what it’s going to be. I did a couple of other tests, most recently, with different cars as well. I did a WRC test a month and a half ago in England, but (with) all asphalt and WRC tires, so it’s a little bit different. But of course, they’re similar cars and similar driving skills. So not enough, but some!

Tell us a little bit about the car that you’ll be using at X Games.
For X Games Brazil, I will be driving the XRC Brasil Peugeot 207. That’s a car that the team was originally running in the South American and Brazilian Rally Championship, which they were champions of last year in Brazil. The car is not going to be, unfortunately, as developed as a lot of the other cars in the field. It’s something new for the team, it’s something new for the entire group of people that is actually putting this team together down there. They’re very good, they’ve won several times in the Brazilian Rally Championship, and they’re very good in trucks—they’ve won seven or eight championships in that. But this is completely new for the team. So I think we’ll be a little bit behind on not having enough hours in the car, and us not having the feedback of the car, so we’re going to have to figure it out on Friday morning over there.

As a native Brazilian, what are your thoughts on racing at X Games in your home country?
Oh, that’s huge! Since I was actually working on a program for Global Rallycross, I was hoping they would have an X Games in Brazil with rallycross. I even tried my best to influence that as much as I could inside Disney and ESPN and all that, because Brazil is a huge market for motorsports and extreme sports. So it’s just a perfect combination. Being back home, I haven’t been racing there officially in a while, I’ve been doing it all (in America), so it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be awesome to represent, and because usually the crowds in Brazil for any type of sports are very excited. So it’s a good place to do that type of event anyway, and especially doing that type of event back home is going to be very, very good.

What are your expectations for your performance in Brazil?
Well, I’m not going to lie to you—we know the reality of no testing, and the car is new. But our goal is the same one as everybody else, to win. Realistically, I think we’ll be getting a lot of feedback on Friday, making the best setup possible to qualify well and hopefully the first goal will be to get to the final without any major damage or work on the car. Then we’ll go from there. For us, like I said, with what the team has been preparing and with the amount of seat time that we’ve had, I think we’ll be very, very good if we can actually advance to the final. (We’ll) at least put up a fight with everybody else, who have been there for many years in factory cars that are set up properly. So that’s my expectation.

Photo credit: Jose Mario Dias