In 2013 Hugo Valente, a 21-year old from the Parisian region, competed in eight of the WTCC rounds at the wheel of a Campos Racing SEAT León.
“It was a great experience competing against top class drivers who have been racing in touring cars for many years. It was very challenging and sometimes we were able to get some positive results. I struggled with the new tyres at the beginning, I had not much testing before the season and doing only half the championship was a big challenge, as the others had much more time in the car than I had. However the team helped me to understand my weak points, we worked hard together and we saw some improvements towards the end of the championship.”
Now that you face your first full season in the championship, are you excited? “I am overly excited! The fact that the regulations have evolved, adds even more excitement. I think the fans will really like this new generation of cars. They will be nicer, faster and more challenging to drive. I will be racing with a Cruze for the first time; it has been the fastest car in previous years and I think that nothing will stop RML from building a good car again. And even if our testing time will be limited compared to the other teams, I believe that the Cruze drivers should feel confident about the upcoming season.”
You will race again for Campos Racing. How do you rate the team and working with them? “It’s a great team. Most of the crew members come from SUNRED that was a very competitive team for a few years. They know how to run a car and make it fast. It is also a young team, and this means that we all want to grow and improve together. Adrián Campos and Joan Orús did everything was possible for running two Cruze cars, and this showed that they want to improve further and be competitive at least as much as I do! So it’s great for me to be with them!”
You will be teaming with Borković, who is a rookie in WTCC. And you have a limited experience, do you think this might make life difficult to the team? “I don’t know Dušan personally, nor have I raced with him. But the team told me he is a fast driver. Maybe it would be better to have someone more experienced in the other car, but the new regulations change everything. Experienced driver or not, we are going to work very hard together and I hope that our feedbacks will help the team to improve. Everyone working at Campos racing wants to be fighting for good positions, they have a lot of experience and I trust them.”
The new cars will be delivered very late, therefore it would be difficult to complete proper tests before the season. How are you preparing yourself for the racing? “The cars are due to be delivered mid March. I hope we have time enough to test and understand how it works in order to arrive fully prepared at Marrakech. I haven’t been able to race since November and I missed it a lot. I have been working in the simulator quite a lot, and been doing a lot of mental and cardio training everyday to improve my physical condition. I have also gone to RML a few times to see how the car is getting built, because I think it’s extremely important to understand how it is going to work, and I wish to thank RML for giving me this opportunity.”
What are your own goals for the upcoming season? “This is a very important year for me. I have made a lot of changes in my everyday’s schedule to be fully focusing on the season, and I thank each person who is working with me: my coaches, my sponsors, the team and my family. They have been of great help. I hope to be among the best Cruze drivers and be able to compete against the factory teams. It’s hard to say anything about the positions, because we know so little about the performance of each car yet. But I really hope we will be able to fight for some podiums and finish as many races as possible. The championship is long and we have seen in previous years that finishing races is the key to a good final result. A top-eight finish would be a great achievement for my first full season!”