1: Brazil used to feature on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar. The country was a WRC host nation not once, but twice - in 1981 and 1982. Ari Vatanen won the first event in a Ford Escort, whereas Michele Mouton triumphed the second time in an Audi Quattro.
2: Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna was a huge rallying enthusiast, testing a variety of cars in Great Britain in 1986, including an MG Metro 6R4. He said: “It’s much more exciting here than in a Formula One car. Because here you don’t have the top, top speed, but you have a tremendous acceleration. It’s a much more instant emotion than it is in a Formula One car.”
3: The biggest rallying event at the moment in Brazil is the Rally dos Sertoes: a cross-country rally through pampas and jungle, which is one of the toughest in the world. A 5000-kilometre route, starting in Goiania and finishing in the coastal city of Caucaia in the country’s north-east, tests bikers, quad bikers, truckers and rally car drivers alike.
4: Brazil has two WRC regulars: Paulo Nobre (pictured) and Daniel Oliveira. Nobre contested all 13 rounds of this year’s series in a WRC Team MINI Portugal John Cooper Works, while Oliveira tackled selected events in a Brazil World Rally Team-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
5: Rallying is quite their first love, however. Nobre is a huge fan of the Palmeiras football club to the extent he’s currently in the running to be its next president. Oliveira, meanwhile, used to play in a death metal band in his homeland.
6: A star-studded entry list for the 1000 Miles Historic Rally held in Brazil in June featured local heroes Nelson Piquet, Roberto Moreno and Wilson Fittipaldi. Drivers took part in cars including a Jaguar E-type, Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 and Porsche 911, from 1919 right up to 1980. The five days of competition began and ended in the city of Sao Paulo, the home of Interlagos, covering the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.
7: As well as the Formula One title decider, the Interlagos circuit will also host a regularity rally next month: an annual event that takes place at the Sao Paulo track. Nonetheless, there’s still a fair amount of speed involved, the winning cars tend to lap the circuit in about 3m10s, as opposed to the 1m14s that it takes to lap Interlagos.
8: Red Bull’s biggest rally star, Kimi Raikkonen, won his 2007 Formula One title at the Brazilian Grand Prix in the first three-way title decider since 1986. Lewis Hamilton had some gearbox issues and an odd strategy that left him seventh, Fernando Alonso was third but couldn’t touch the Ferraris, while Raikkonen went on to win the race and the title.
9: Sebastien Loeb’s favourite food is rib of beef, and nowhere is this done better than in a Brazilian churrascaria: a dedicated meat restaurant, as Loeb well knows. Knife-wielding passadors (meat waiters) roam the restaurant with huge slabs of beef, slicing off chunks until diners beg them to stop.
10: Brazil’s last modern international rally event was Rally Internacional de Curitiba, a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge from 2009-2010. Kris Meeke, who starred for MINI in the WRC last year, won the event on both occasions - going on to seal the IRC title in 2009.