One man looking to change all that is Daniel Oliveira. Aged 25, the Brazilian is embarking on an 11-round World Rally Championship challenge this season with the Prodrive-managed Brazil World Rally Team, which continued in Jordan last week.
Although Oliveira’s hopes were dashed when he retired on day one with an overheating engine, he returned under SupeRally regulations on day two and promptly reached the finish in 19th overall on his debut on the Middle East round.
While the event didn’t go entirely to plan for Oliveira and his Portuguese co-driver Carlos Magalhaes, he could at least head home to his native Brazil in the knowledge that when he resumes his world bid on Rally d’Italia Sardegna next month he will do so in the all-new MINI John Cooper Works WRC.
“It was a really complicated event from the very beginning for everybody and particularly for us,” said Oliveira. “It was my first time driving in these tough roads and it was really difficult. But on the second loop we improved a lot our pace. We have overcome some difficult situations in our first two outings and we understand we helped Prodrive to develop the car. Now it’s time to move forward and start thinking about our debut with the WRC version in Italy, which I’m really excited about.”
Oliveira and the Brazil World Rally Team are in the WRC for the long term. As well as progressing on the stages, building interest in the series in their homeland remains a key objective. After all it’s almost three decades since the country hosted a round of the series, while Brazilian drivers in the WRC are a rarity.
“We want Daniel to become as experienced as possible in the first year, and try to run up the ladder the subsequent years,” said BWRT manager Paul Handal. “Also we would like to show our Brazilian fans into the WRC arena, and make this sport grow in the country.”
It’s early days but already interest is being generated with two Brazilian organisations coming on board. Embraer, the world’s third largest airplane manufacturer, and Bahiatursa, the tourist board of the Brazilian state of Bahia are both supporting Oliveira’s world rally campaign and their logos will be displayed on his MINI John Cooper Works WRC.
"We have overcome some difficult situations in our first two outings"