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Path to Brazil: Meet Mauricio Neves, Driver, XRC Team Brasil

April 18, 2013

Mauricio Neves may not be the best-known name internationally among the Brazilian drivers who will contest this weekend’s Global Rallycross event at X Games in Foz do Iguaçu, but his resume is similarly impressive. A four-time Golden Helmet winner in his native country, Neves is one of Brazil’s premier rally drivers and has even contested the Dakar Rally for Volkswagen.

Neves is also no stranger to rallycross, having won multiple championships in the sport in the past decade. Before making his X Games debut, he sat down to talk to us about his racing background, his career successes, and his best advice for young drivers:

First things first: you’ve had a long and accomplished career, but many American fans may not be familiar with you yet. What are some of your biggest accomplishments?
Well, I’m a mechanic who became a pilot, with no money could win races in the Rally Raid, won a stage of the world championship and have been part of VW Motorsport team alongside Carlos Sainz. That was my greatest achievement. 

How did you put together this deal to go racing at X Games?
Well, while I follow the X Games and think it’s fantastic, there is rallycross in Brazil. But still I decided I would participate. This is only possible thanks to XRC and also partnering with Eduardo Marques, who was the one who opened all doors for us in GRC and X-Games. 

You’ve done all kinds of racing, including the Dakar Rally a few years ago. How does driving a rallycross car compare?
Well, as a tester I’m used to driving any kind of car. I adapt very easily. With XRC I’m already vying for the national championship in rally. For rallycross the difference is tha tthere there is contact between the cars, but for me it will not be a problem since I have competed in various tests on circuits with touring cars and karts. 

Have you had any testing in the car? How comfortable are you with it?
I know the car very well and feel very comfortable. 

How competitive do you expect to be in the race?
If I qualify for the final will have already been a great victory!

Getting to know Mauricio Neves…

What was the last car you bought?
Interestingly my car is a VW Amarok pick up. 

What are your favorite hobbies away from the race track?
I like everything related to engines, any race, any event, everything. I also like old classic cars and motorcycles. Currently enjoying my children have been my greatest hobby. 

If you could describe yourself in only one word, what would it be?

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
If I tell everyone, they will know! Hahaha. 

What’s your favorite pre-race meal?
I have nothing particular, in Rally Raid it is important to eat lots of carbs. 

Do you have a specific pre-race routine?
I have nothing, just sit in the car and accelerate! 

Who was your biggest inspiration in racing?
Once I became older that the pilot Ayrton Senna inspired me. Before that I only remember that I loved the cars. 

If you weren’t a race car driver, what would you be?
I already have this second option, I love to build race cars, develop, test and race a competitive car, today I live it! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from another driver?
To win a race you must first get to the end of it! 

My best piece of advice for young racing drivers is:
If you have a dream, go ahead, only you can realize it. If you do not believe in yourself, nobody else will believe!

Photo credit: Jose Mario Dias