Tag Archives: X Team Racing


Global Rallycross Season Review: Guiga Spinelli

As Global Rallycross attracted international superstars from diverse racing backgrounds in 2013, off-road veterans were among those to give rallycross a try. One of those names that might have flown under the radar was Guiga Spinelli, a two-time top-10 finisher in the Dakar Rally, who would fill in for Nelson Piquet at X Team Racing in a handful events.

Spinelli would make his rallycross debut in 2013, appearing at a pair of X Games events. Though he wasn’t expected to outperform his Formula 1 veteran teammate, it would be the Rally dos Sertoes legend who would score the team’s best finish of the season.


Though Spinelli wouldn’t have the chance to race in his home country of Brazil, he would make his first Global Rallycross appearance by heading to Barcelona as part of the second X Games race of the year. Unfortunately, the rain would prove too much for the event to go on, and he wouldn’t even have the chance to make it to the track.

X Games Munich would then serve as Spinelli’s de facto series debut. The first race saw him work to adapt to a new car and driving style; he would earn the 13th seed and finish fourth in his heat. A fifth-place finish in the last chance qualifier would give him the 13th overall finishing position at race’s end.


Fortunately, Munich served as a doubleheader to make up for the Barcelona cancellation, and Spinelli would take full advantage. Though his seeding performance was actually worse (16th out of 17 drivers), he would finish third in his heat to earn a front-row spot in the last chance qualifier. After avoiding the troubles of more experienced competitors in the LCQ, Spinelli finished second in the LCQ and made his way to seventh in the final.

For now, Spinelli’s focus remains on rally raid; the longtime Mitsubishi driver will compete in the Dakar Rally for the sixth time in January. But he proved that the older-model Evo could be a competitive car in 2013, and that’s a great positive for X Team.

Photo credit: GRC Staff


Global Rallycross Season Review: Nelson Piquet Jr.

After racing in everything from stock cars and trucks to Formula 1 cars, Nelson Piquet Jr. can easily call himself one of the world’s most versatile racers. But none of those cars can compare to his latest challenge: Global Rallycross.

Driving a Mitsubishi Evo for X Team Racing, Piquet made starts at Brazil, New Hampshire, Charlotte, and Las Vegas. The car was a fan favorite, but 2013 was a year of developing skills for Piquet, who proved at season’s end that he could contend for main event appearances.


The season opener at X Games Brazil may have been Piquet’s best chance to make it to the main event, as he qualified an impressive fourth in his rallycross debut in front of his native country’s fans. Unfortunately, a jump start and last chance qualifier appearance followed, and he couldn’t beat Patrik Sandell or Buddy Rice for a transfer spot.

An uninspiring performance at New Hampshire followed, as the team swapped Munich pilot Guiga Spinelli for Piquet and struggled to find speed. He also couldn’t get into a rhythm at Charlotte, as other commitments rendered him unable to appear at the track until race day; in his stead, Jarit Johnson was drafted to shake down the car.


Finally, everything appeared to come together in Las Vegas, as Piquet came out on the right side of a last chance qualifier battle with Sverre Isachsen. Unfortunately for Piquet, series officials judged him to have engaged in overly aggressive driving with the livid Norwegian, leading to a disqualification.

Any driver who makes it to racing’s upper echelons has an immense amount of talent, and both Piquet and his fans are well aware of that. 2013 was just a case of looking for the right combination of speed and luck, and only finding one or the other—an aberration given the Brazilian’s strong track record as a whole in his career.

Photo credit: Matthew Kalish (1, 3); QBA/QNIGAN.com (2)

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


Path to Brazil: Getting To Know Nelson Piquet, Driver, X Team Racing

From open-wheel racing to stock cars, there’s not much that Nelson Piquet hasn’t found success in behind the wheel. From racing his way into the prestigious Formula 1, to reinventing himself as a successful NASCAR driver, Piquet is always focused, forever determined to be just a little bit better.

Those qualities will serve him well in his initial foray into Global Rallycross, where he will drive a Mitsubishi Evo prepared by X Team Racing. As he prepares to make his debut, he helped us get to know him better, both at and away from the race track:

If you weren’t a race car driver, what would you be?
I don’t know, maybe something to do with marketing or engineering. They’re the two subjects that I come across a lot during my career. So maybe one of those two, they’re the only ones that create a bit of interest.

What are your favorite hobbies away from the race track?
Lately I’ve been traveling so much, I hardly have time to do much. Usually when I have free time, I try to find more races to do, just because I think that’s part of my life. The more I do it, the more I practice, and the more I get involved, I think the better I can be. If I’m not in a race, if I’m not in the shop with the team working on the next race, I’m at the go-kart track. If I’m not at a race, I’m probably going to be in the airplane or having to rest at home, just to recover a bit more energy.

When I do have a bit more time—when I had the Truck schedule, which gave me a bit more time to do things, I did a triathlon, just to be a little bit more fit and to keep me motivated on the diet and working out. But with the schedule we have now, with races every weekend, it’s just racing, racing, racing. It’s sometimes very tough, but it keeps your mind only on one thing, and it gives you no time to lose focus.

Where do you go when you take a vacation?
The first time I spent a New Year’s celebration out of Brazil was this past year. Every year I would usually go to Brazil or be with my father. And it wasn’t the same vibe as when you’re in Brazil or when you’re with your family. So usually I’ll try to go down to Brazil, even if it’s just for a couple of days, or I’ll be with my father, just seeing him. Usually that’s the plan, seeing family and friends that I don’t see the whole year. You start getting old, friends start getting jobs, and vacations start getting shorter and shorter for everybody.

If you could describe yourself in only one word, what would it be?
Persistent. I’m very hard on myself, but I’m very persistent about what I do.

How do you prepare mentally for race day?
Before the race I just try to be relaxed and not think about anything. Usually I try to listen to music. It’s like watching a movie—when you watch a movie, you kind of forget about things, and you’re just paying attention to the movie. I listen to music, and sometimes it’s sort of the same thing. It gives you less of a chance to think about everything around. It kind of deletes everything around that’s happening and doesn’t give me a chance to worry about what’s not important.

What’s your favorite track that you’ve ever raced on?
Macau, Monaco, these two street courses are pretty amazing. It’s a tough one for drivers, because usually drivers are going to pick something they won or somewhere they did well, but I think these two are pretty amazing places to race that I really like.

What was the biggest victory of your career?
I think winning in Vegas last year was pretty special. Road America. I mean, a lot of the NASCAR wins I had last year were pretty big for me, because I had such a tough transition for me, coming from Europe over here without much support, sort of on my own. Every time I won last year was quite important for me, just to prove myself, to the fans, my sponsors, myself, my family. I think everything I’ve done here has been very important.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from another driver?
I think it’s probably the same advice I hear every time—not from guys that are racing, but from guys that were drivers. Don’t beat yourself up too much when you don’t win a race. Because I tend to be pretty hard on myself when things don’t go well.

What’s your favorite thing about your fanbase?
They’ll always be behind you no matter what. It’s amazing how you can, any time of the day, especially with social media stuff, speak to them or find them. They’re there cheering for you. Some of them dedicate their lives as well to see you, just to see races that you do. I’ve had fans in Europe from my Formula 3 days, and since I’ve come to America I’ve had fans over here that have done crazy things for me. Sometimes it’s difficult to treat them as a fan, because they’re so nice, and think it’s so good to see you. All the loyal fans I’ve had have been important to keep me motivated.

Path to Brazil: Meet Nelson Piquet Jr., Driver, X Team Racing

From European open-wheel racing to American stock car racing, there’s not much that Brazil’s Nelson Piquet Jr. hasn’t done. He’s reached the upper echelons of the former, spending two years in Formula One, and taken multiple victories in the latter, scoring victories in two of NASCAR’s top three series last year.

In 2013, Piquet will add another discipline to his resume, competing in Global Rallycross at X Games with X Team Racing in a Mitsubishi Evo. As he prepares to take on a brand new challenge, Piquet discussed his optimism for the sport’s growth and expectations for his debut:

What inspired you to try running in Global Rallycross alongside your NASCAR commitments?
The series is growing quickly, and it’s interesting, it’s fun. It’s not the usual rally from point A to point B, it’s a race track where you do laps and I think it’s a cool series, a cool concept. I wonder why it’s not something that grew up earlier.

How did you put this program together?
The only thing I did was to show interest to some of the guys that put this together. They knew that I liked it, and they knew that I would want to take part in it if they put something together. So the team put this together, gave me a call, and I said for sure I would do it.


How much rallycross testing have you done? Are you comfortable with the driving style?
I’ve never done it before, it’s going to be my first time.


You’ve run a lot of major races across the world before, from F1 to NASCAR. In terms of prestige, how does X Games compare?
It’s one of those races where I think it’s a series that’s still growing a lot. But I’m sure it’s something that’s going to grow much more than what it is. I think it terms of the name, it’s a big deal because it’s X Games. It’s like the Olympics, but it’s a different style of racing. I still think it’s a bit in the beginning, but in five years time I’m sure that it’s going to be so much tougher and harder than it is right now.


Is there something extra special about getting to make your Global Rallycross debut in Brazil?
Yeah, it’s always good to be part of these situations. It’s the first time Global Rallycross is in Brazil, and the beginning of their history. And it’s the first time a Brazilian car is in an event like this, so obviously it’s special to be a part of it.


When all is said and done, where do you expect to finish at X Games?
It’s difficult to say. I’d like to make the final, and then from the final, if we have a car that is good, I would hope to give the leaders a tough time, just because I think I have the car control. And I think that mostly that’s what it’s all about. I think the car control and having a good car makes a big difference, just because it’s a road course kind of track. It’s not exactly like a rally from plan A to plan B.