Hello Lucas and nice to meet you here in Dubai. What are you doing in Dubai?
It’s a good place to stay for the holidays, and you can watch the races on the circuit here at the Autodrome, which is a good plan for the weekend.
Tell us more about Nasser and your plans for the new season. You have a big program in the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup.
We await the final plan after having recently finished the Dakar Rally one month ago. We need to prepare a briefing to analyze the plan for next year and I think it’s very interesting to do the Cross Country Rally World Cup, including the Abu Dhabi and Qatar rallies. I am looking forward to participate and try to win.
Lucas, you are a Dakar Rally winner with Carlos Sainz. Can you give us a brief history of how you started your career in co-driving and navigating, and where you are now?
I started [my co-driving career] in 1994 with a tarmac rally, and I practiced a lot with different drivers on different stages: tarmac, gravel, rally raids. I won Spanish championships on gravel, in addition to rally raids. My first opportunity to race in Dakar was in 2001; we finished 21st in the rookie and amateur category. There’s one time I sat [as a co-driver] in the middle of a Volkswagen racing truck, I did this to gain more experience for the rally raid.
I had the opportunity to race in the official Mitsubishi team with Nani Roma. I stayed there for 3 years, and after that I got a call from Carlos [Sainz]; we raced together in Dakar and won. I had a history with Carlos because we started together in 1998 in one project with young guys, a junior rally team from Spain. After the project with Volkswagen, Nasser decided to continue in the Rally Raid, then he called me to race together and we started in 2012 with Hummer and we participated in one event before…
…Yes, in a Mercedes-Benz in Qatar
Yes, with Mercedes in Qatar. Now I continue with him and I’ve very happy to stay Nasser because he’s a fantastic driver.
How do you evaluate Nasser as a driver? You know he comes from a Rally background to a Rally Raid.
He’s a complete driver because he participates in Rallies, it’s a good experience there, and in Rally Raid, I think he’s on the perfect level, because if you compare him to other drivers, you can see that he has a very good level of driving in the rally raid stages and also I think for me he’s the fastest driver in the off-road. He lives in Qatar and they [the Qatari drivers] have a lot of experience on the dunes but it’s not so easy to arrive in the dunes, we open the way and we saw the other driver take another line and he takes a different line, for me it’s fantastic, I’m very safe inside the car and I enjoy it a lot with him.
What’s the difference between Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah?
They’re very similar; both are very fast in the car. For me, Nasser has a much better level of on the dunes and off-road as well. Nasser has very good eyes in the desert; he’s got a fantastic point of view for locations. I think he’s a more complete driver.
You have a good chance to win the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup this year; Nasser is also well prepared. What might stop you from winning this year?
I think it’s complicated because this type of racing is long; fast drivers don’t win the championship, you need a solid strategy and consistency, finishing in the top 5 or 3 every time. It’s similar to Dakar, if you win the stages, you don’t win the rally. This championship is the same, you need to try to win, but you also need to keep 10 per cent in the pocket and stay safe because it’s a long championship with long races.
Lucas, we would like to thank you. Any last message for the Middle East audience?
It’s a good experience to see an off-road race or rally raid because it’s not so easy to stay in the car; there are long stages with a lot of kilometers and it’s not so easy to stay on top all the time. I think it’s a fine experience for the public to come and see the races or watch them on TV.