The day the rally driver Miquel Àngel Fernández appeared in the workshop of Mr. Cruz de Caldes de Montbui to prepare his car, the automobile was left without a good future mechanic, but the Dakar won a first-class co-driver .
“It simply came to our notice then copy ; Do you want to try it? ”Fernández told a 19-year-old Lucas Cruz, who in 1994 began his sporting career at the right wheel, as a driver’s guide. Or as he defines himself: “I am the one who speaks in their ear where they should go, following the information given to us by the road book.” At the age of 45 (for Sant Esteve), this trained computer engineer but co-driver by profession faces the 18th Dakar, the eighth alongside Carlos Sainz.
If asked among rally and Dakar drivers, the answer is unanimous: Lucas Cruz is one of the best sailors a rider can trust. In these more than 25 years, twenty long drivers have been able to corroborate this, from Fernández to Sainz, to José Luis Monterde – with whom he made his debut in the 2001 Dakar and they were the best rookies -, Xevi Pons, Salvador Cañellas, Albert Llovera, Nani Roma or Nasser Al Attiyah.
What do the pilots see in Lucas Cruz? The question flies to your current partner.
– I ran with other co-drivers and I didn’t win, and with Lucas, yes. First, he is an excellent person, a good friend, a great collaborator. It would highlight the tranquility. He knows me very well and knows at all times that in critical situations you get tense; the tension is brutal inside the car because you take risks, because it’s been an hour and a half since you sweated blood to scratch for a few seconds and the co-driver makes you stop and turn around to check the route … It’s not easy at all, it costs the driver a lot, and Lucas knows me very well, he knows how to handle me very well, so I fully trust him. I feel very comfortable there – says Carlos Sainz, who not in vain has achieved his successes in the Dakar with Cruz on the right: the victory in 2010 the first year he had as co-driver, the podium in 2011 (3rd), and in the second stage of his collaboration (since 2015), the triumph of 2018.
EXCEPT OF A COPILOT
“You have to be disciplined, orderly, very meticulous and passionate about the job, and have confidence in the pilot”
With the legendary Madrid pilot, he has developed a relationship “very fluid, very cordial, that of two friends” – says Cruz – who can talk about everything: politics, football – a Madrid player and a Catalan -, personal problems, of concerns …
–It creates a very close bond, as you have a friend with whom you travel for 20 days … It’s like a marriage: in the end, you don’t stop spending 16 or 17 hours a day with a person, in a very special space reduced, where there are moments of satisfaction, defeat, or frustration. You have to get to know each other, and that helps you overcome the shortcomings. You are out of the house for 20 days, and your family is your team – explains the co-driver of Caldes de Montbui, who considers it decisive, in order to get along with a pilot, “tolerance and confidence: at some point of tension there is a cry or a bad word, you don’t have to take it badly, these are race situations … ”.
Being a co-pilot is like a vocation for service, not the second dish of a frustrated pilot. “I have never been a driver and I have not been anxious to run; I liked being a co-pilot ”. And to be so, you need special characteristics: “You have to be disciplined, orderly, very meticulous, passionate about your work, and have confidence in the person you have on the left. You have to be the first person in the background, ”says Cruz. That is: “The pilot has his responsibility and you have to be one step behind to be able to control all situations and see what he fails to see.”
That is why pilots often have to act as psychologists.
–Especially when you have a problem, a puncture or waste time. You have to try to lift your spirits, regain concentration. When you have it, you should try to reduce that tension, either by talking more slowly, more calmly, not putting more firewood on the fire. This is given to you by the time of relationship with the pilot… – Cruz explains.
THE OPINION OF CARLOS SAINZ
“Of Lucas I would emphasize the tranquility and that it knows to take to me in critical situations; I trust him completely ”
Mutual knowledge, but also a lot of left hand and good doses of psychological preparation with a specialist like Pep Font, from the CAR of Sant Cugat. “It helps me a lot to focus, to put everything in order,” says Cruz, who is also very demanding on fitness. “ Mens sana in corpore sano … The only thing I don’t train is the lack of sleep, but we try to adapt to the schedules, optimize the hours of sleep with relaxation techniques… And in the links, with sun of face, constant noise and constant speed, m “I fall asleep,” admits the most successful Spanish co-driver in the Dakar.