Monday, May 27, 2024

Lucas Moraes becomes Toyota Gazoo Racing driver

Lucas Moraes is one of the top prospects in rally raid, and he lived up to the hype in his Dakar Rally début when he finished third in a Toyota Hilux T1+. As he prepares to race the pickup again, he will do so in the colours of Toyota Gazoo Racing.

On Tuesday, Moraes announced he has signed with Toyota Gazoo Racing Brasil, receiving formal factory support from Toyota whenever he races the Hilux. His first start as a TGRB driver will be the Baja España Aragón on 21/22 July with Kaique Bentivoglio as his co-driver.

Overdrive Racing will continue to provide technical support as they did in Dakar.

Moraes arrived at Dakar as the top rally raider in Brazil, having won the Campeonato Brasileiro de Rally Baja (Brazilian Baja Rally Championship) three times and the Rally dos Sertões twice. While Brazil’s rallies are typically through forests and mountains unlike the deserts of Saudi Arabia, he continued to impress in his pre-Dakar races by finishing third at the 2022 Baja Aragón and fifth at the Dubai International Baja. He carried that momentum into Dakar as ran as high as second before finishing third overall.

When not racing a Hilux, Moraes races a Polaris in the Brazilian Baja Rally series.

“After Dakar, I returned to Brazil and competed more in the SSV category of the national championship,” Moraes commented. “In the second half of the year, my complete focus will be on the car category. Baja Aragon was a fantastic experience for me last year. It was amazing to be in the fight for the podium and finish third, right behind Nasser (Al-Attiyah) and Yazeed (Al-Rajhi). This year, the lineup is going to be incredible, with maybe twelve to fifteen guys who have the potential to win some stages. I am eagerly anticipating preparing for the race, and it will also serve as good preparation for the Sertões.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing is the top Hilux T1+ team today, having won the last two Dakar Rallies and the 2022 World Rally-Raid Championship with Al-Attiyah. The programme receives full backing from Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and has regional divisions such as Moraes’ TGR Brasil, TGR Baltics led by Benediktas Vanagas, and the newly formed TGR Czech with Tomáš Ouředníček.