In less than one month, the Race of Argentina will welcome … an Argentine as provisional leader of the FIA WTCC standings.
After the end of the European part of the season, José María López went home for a few days before taking a well-deserved break and met with the Argentine press to whom he expressed his feelings ahead of the home event.
“I will be the local guy there. I know the track and I like it, not only because I won there in my WTCC debut last year, but also because it brings back good memories of some national success in the past. I am waiting for that race with enthusiasm. I can already imagine the stands full of fans in a glorious weekend in which we can show the whole world the passion Argentines have for motorsport,” said ‘Pechito’.
He admitted that he didn’t expect such a positive start of the season, and reflecting on the reasons of this success, he commented: “I had to adapt again to something new like the WTCC. I worked hard to reach this level of performance. I am pleased because I have not made many mistakes and the only retirement so far was in Moscow due to a gearbox failure. I would like to be better in the starts, but I’m happy because I have got positive results. I feel like everything counts and that the long time I did karting at home and in Europe, then single-seaters and after that a return to Argentina to compete in tin-top cars, was all a learning process. In more recent years, I learnt how to deal with door-to-door racing, front-wheel drive and new situations.”
Regarding the championship situation, he reckons the difficult part starts now: “Maybe right now that weight on my shoulders are starting to feel heavier. I am happy for the moment, but at the same time I must keep my feet on the ground and know that nothing comes so easily. The Asian events could be more difficult for me because I have never competed in any of those circuits; not in China, nor in Japan or Macau. Among my rivals and team mates, there are some who have been there many times. It would be important to widen the gap at Termas in order to be a little bit more comfortable afterwards.”
However, in the short term, López’s focus is shifting on Argentina’s national football team for this Sunday’s World Cup final…