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Special feature
Dakar Dakar

Moraes: "Being in Al-Attiyah's shoes is a big responsibility"

The Brazilian driver has the difficult task of replacing Nasser Al-Attiyah at Toyota to try to win the Dakar Rally, although "nobody will ever be able to replace" the Qatari. 

Winning the Dakar Rally is one of the things that every driver in the world dreams of, but it is something that very few can achieve. Whether by quality or luck, you also need the support of a great team, such as Toyota, which, with Nasser Al Attiyah, has won three Touareg trophies in the last six editions.

However, the Japanese manufacturer no longer has the Qatari in its ranks, so it decided to go for youth and call on someone who impressed in his rookie year in the top category of the toughest race on the planet: Lucas Moraes, a Brazilian who showed what he was capable of by coming third against a whole armada of legends. 

When Motorsport.com spoke to him about what it meant to represent his team and be the replacement for a five-time Dakar Rally winner, he said: "It's an honour to represent this team, Toyota Gazoo Racing is one of, if not the best, team. To be in Nasser's [Al-Attiyah] shoes is a big responsibility, but I know that nobody can ever replace Nasser.

"He's a five-time [Dakar Rally] champion, and one of the best on the grid, but it's an honour to try my best and give the team good results," said the new Toyota driver, who was able to pick up his first stage win during the first week of the 2024 edition. "We won a stage, which was impressive. 

One of the most interesting things about his story is how he was approached to join the team: "The talks came with the news that Nasser was leaving the team, and they started after the result of last year's Dakar. When I got the call from Alain [Dujardyn, Toyota director], it was a dream come true." 

However, Lucas Moraes is left with one of the most important aspects for Brazilian motorsport: "Last year when we got the podium, it was an honour to represent the country, because it had never been done before. I was able to do it, and this week too, because we won the third stage and I received a lot of messages, so it's nice to represent this flag and to keep doing it like this."

He also has the invaluable help of Armand Monleon as co-driver, a Spaniard who knows what he is doing guiding the driver: "He is one of the best co-drivers out there, we get along very well, so, so far, so good. He's good, like I said, we get along very well, he has a lot of experience of the bikes, he's very technical, and very precise on the navigation side, which is important to give me confidence, so that's important." 

Although all this would also not be possible without key products for his riding, and the Brazilian can boast that he has everything new from the Sparco range, with the Future line including gloves, overalls and boots: "It's very good to have the sponsorship of an iconic brand in motorsport. They provide me with everything from the racing suits to the underwear we use. 

"The products are amazing, and they are used by the best drivers, including us, so I have to say thank you for being able to work with them," explained the Brazilian, who highlighted two key elements in the world of motorsport. "I think the comfort and the quality of the suit is outstanding. It's very good, you can do everything with it, so it's good."

On whether he would recommend it to any other teammate in the Dakar Rally bivouac, the Toyota driver didn't hesitate for a moment, and also pointed out two products that are the best for him: "Yes, of course, the Sparco products are the best I've ever had, and I recommend them. I like the overalls, and also the underwear we use. It's very, very comfortable, so it's very good". 

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