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Sylvio de Barros: 1967–2024

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Credit: BMW Group

Sylvio de Barros, an entrepreneur who has competed and won on both pavement and off-road, died Monday at the age of 57 after slipping and hitting his head on a rock while at a waterfall in Jardinópolis.

Barros was the founder of the Brazilian online car marketplaces WebMotors and iCarros. The former was the first of its kind in the country, launching in 1995 shortly after he departed General Motors; as WebMotors took off, it attracted investors like JP Morgan before being acquired by Santander, and is now under majority control by Carsales after being sold in 2023. iCarros was created in 2007 with the help of the bank Banco Itaú Unibanco, who currently runs it. His most recent project was electric car platform zMatch, founded in 2021.

In 1995, he won the Rally dos Sertões in the Production bike category before switching to four-wheeled competition, finishing second in 2018. Barros and a group of investors acquired the rally’s organiser Dunas Race the year after. His last Sertões Rally in 2023 was cut short when water got into his Toyota Hilux T1+’s engine during the penultimate stage.

His cross-country rally successes prompted him to enter the Dakar Rally in 2007 on a KTM bike, but retired. He hoped to try again the following year until the race was cancelled, and he would have to wait nine more years before getting another shot. Piloting a Mini All4 Racing for X-raid Team, he and fellow Brazilian Rafael Capoani finished eighteenth in the 2017 edition.

In February, Barros and Ramon Sacilotti won the South American Rally Race overall in his Hilux.

Barros’ racing achievements also extended to one-make pavement racing, winning the Porsche Cup Brasil‘s GT3 Cup Challenge in 2011 and 2012 followed by the GT3 4.0 class title in 2018. His Porsche and Hilux typically sported a livery modelled after the Mach 5 from Speed Racer.

“This is a great loss for the Sertões family; for all friends, family and motorsport,” said Sertões CEO Leonora Guedes. “Wherever he was, Sylvio was synonymous with joy. He never went unnoticed anywhere, always filled with good energy. He taught us to live lightly and intensely, with a smile on our faces, and this is his main legacy. He left us too soon and will be greatly missed in all the circles he was a part of.”

He is survived by his wife Vanessa and children André and Stella.

Sylvio Alves de Barros Netto: 21 February 1967 – 27 May 2024

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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