Why Jose Maria Lopez isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio
Having twice missed out on Formula 1 and reinvented himself as a touring car driver, Jose Maria Lopez has had a rocky ride to becoming a four-time world champion. One more would put him level with his nation's favourite son, but there's another prize he would value far more than the honour of matching Juan Manuel Fangio's tally.
If Vernon Kay were to front a motorsport-themed edition of Family Fortunes asking for the names of Argentinian racing drivers, you can bet that the first answer given would be five-time Formula 1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio. F1 aficionados might cite Jose Froilan Gonzalez or Carlos Reutemann, with Oscar Larrauri and Esteban Tuero at the more niche end of the spectrum.
It’s unlikely that one would immediately think of Toyota’s FIA World Endurance Championship charger Jose Maria Lopez for the simple reason that he never raced in motorsport’s most popular series. But with four world titles already to his name, Lopez is arguably the nation’s foremost export since the late Reutemann and it's not too much of a stretch to picture him surpassing Fangio in the world titles stakes.
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Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...
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