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GP Week : Issue 167
Meet a character who is not in the real world of rallying – and the better for it! 44 year-old Brazilian driver Paulo Nobre has charted the most unusual passage into the top line of the sport, and by virtue of outrageous circumstances, now finds himself an official works driver for Mini. He brings with him an infectious sense of humour which lightens and brightens up the day of everyone he meets. He is just a little unusual ... In private life Paulo works in the stock market in Sao Paulo with interests there and abroad, and as a hobby has interests in the Palmeiras football club. He did not know anything about rally sport when the WRC went to Sao Paulo in 1981 and 1982, the OR occasions when Ari Vatanen and Michele Mouton won the rallies. GPWEEK: You discovered rallying in an interesting way. PAULO NOBRE: Until 2001 I did not know that rallying existed. It's funny, I always played soccer and I didn’t know any rally people. I heard something about a thing called Dakar and the rally raids in Brazil, but just that. I met Ari Vatanen in 2007 when we raced the Dakar. He was in VW,IwasinaBMW.Itwasan honour for me to meet him. But before, I didn’t know anything about rallying. Was there some special person who introduced you to motorsport? I had a girlfriend who loved 4x4 cars, so when I went to change my car around 1998 or 1999, I bought a Pajero. I then got to know the organisers of Mitsubishi Motorsport in Brazil and they told me about the off-road regulatory rallies they have in my country. I said “I don’t know how to drive such a vehicle” but a friend said “Listen, let’s go, let’s try.” Later I was told you have more fun racing against a clock than in regularity. Then came rallying. It’s funny, this was like 11, 12 years ago and now I am in the WRC. This is funny ... life is funny. You couldn’t have been the youngest driver when you turned to competitive cross country? When I started the cross country I was 33 years old and all the guys there had more than 10 years experience. Rallying is another thing altogether. You are much more on the limit because you have the pace-notes and everything, so you’ve got to use it with the speed and the reaction of the car at high speed. So this is how I came to rally. It is something fantastic. For many years I did both rally and cross country but with our world rally championship programme it was impossible to do both. Championship rallying in Brazil is at a low level, so how can one progress in rallying in your part of the world? Our rally championship in Brazil is in intensive care, like in the hospital, almost dying. There is one small but very special event in our country, the Rally of Erechim, which is our country’s qualifying round of the Codasur series. The Codasur series used to have rounds in countries all over the South American continent; now it has been narrowed down to four events in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, and all located only a few hundred kilometres away from each other. The Codasur for us is really interesting. You go to Argentina where they really know how to do it. You go to the only good event in our country, Erechim, which we say is the best race in Codasur! It is really interesting to do this championship. But what finally brought you into the big wide world? Everybody who starts in rallying dreams one day to go to WRC. In 2009-2011 we took a Mitsubishi to occasional rallies round the world and at the 2011 Wales Rally GB I had the chance to drive a Mini WRC for the first time. That for me changed everything. This year (2012) is the dream that my co-driver Eduardo (Paulo) and I had come true! You must always be careful with your dreams, be careful with the things you want too much, because maybe one day they come true. The WRC has enabled me to see and do special things, go places I would never have imagined. You would never believe what sort of challenge is the WRC unless you are actually there. Each special stage is a huge adventure by itself. And driving a World Rally Car means that the focus is really on what you are doing. Reverse seeding rules means I have many times been put first car on the road. Me, with Sebastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and everyone else following me! Do you have any personal motorsport ambition, something else you want to do, to achieve? In rallying I have the dream to win the Erechim rally. And talking about the world championship would be to score at least one point in the Drivers’s championship (in the top 10) by the end of the year. This would be for me fantastic. I never thought I would even be able to come and race in Europe one day. You always need to dream because what would be life if you don’t dream? Even though the dream may be really difficult, you should still dream. And if my dream to finish in the top 10 of the WRC this year would come true that would be something really fantastic for us. 5 MINUTES WITH PAULO NOBRE Martin Holmes catches up with Brazil's happy-go-lucky WRC driver ... 5 MINUTES 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: