Pepe Oriola – Golden boy

24 year old Pepe Oriola races in the WTCR Oscaro. This weekend, in Slovakia, he gave his team (Team Oscaro by Campos Racing) their first win of the season.

A long-awaited victory. Saturday July 14th, while France celebrated their national day, Pepe Oriola was celebrating his first victory of the season in the WTCR Oscaro. “I am very happy. We struggled early on in the season to find the right formula and we finally made it.” underlines Pepe. He goes on: “It was a goal that I had set for myself at the start of the season. I had to do it for Cupra. It’s a reward for the brand, the Team, Oscaro and myself. We have to continue like this. I hope there will be others.”

“Work always pays off. In this case, the proverb has never been as true. After months of testing, the Team Oscaro by Campos Racing team found the perfect setup in Slovakia. You only have to look at the results of the weekend of Pepe Oriola and teammate John Filippi, to notice (41 points for one, 9 points and a Q3 spot for the other). This performance did not surprise the Team: “Honestly, we were very confident for qualifying. But the times of the Hyundais really surprised us.” comments Pepe.

Race goal, check!

Over a second quicker than anyone else in qualifying, the Hyundai drivers Muller, Björk and Michelisz are disqualified overnight for technical reasons. A sanction that pushes number 74 up to the third spot on the grid for Race 1, behind Gabriele Tarquini and Aurélien Comte. He sums up the start: “I had a very good start, contrary to Tarquini. I manage to go up into second, just behind Comte. I thought i was going to be on his back all race, but in the first lap he made two errors. That helped me close up on him and I could pass in Turn 1 on the second lap.”

Behind Oriola, Jean-Karl Vernay follows the rythm. Sixth in the championship, and serious title candidate, the Frenchman gives the Team Oscaro by Campos Racing doubts: “In a straight line, i knew the Audi of Vernay was quicker than mine. When the Safety Car came out, he closed in on me. But i didn’t want him to be close to me at the entry of the last turn. So i slowed everyone down, and it worked. I got some distance and won the race.”

Championship goal?

Even with a wheezing season start, the Barcelonian got his fifth podium of the season in Slovakia. At the time of writing, he’s seventh with 154 points. “Before the season, I didn’t expect to be this close to the leaders. But in my career, I have always been Top 10 in the WTCC, and Top 5 in TCR International, so I knew inside myself that i could fight with the best” confides the Cupra racer. At 22 points from the podium after six race weekends, Oriola has big ambitions for the end of the season:

"Now that i am here, i want to fight for the title."

Realistic in the difficulty of catching up to his adversaries, he is still optimistic. With four weekends left in the championship, he still wants to cause un upset, notably at Macao, a circuit that he “likes very much”. On top of his 1.88m, Pepe Oriola is one of the good surprises of the WTCR Oscaro 2018. He is aware that there is a good card to play during the Asian rounds: “We are entering money time, the drivers in front will start to feel the pressure and will be making errors, so it’s up to me to be opportunistic and to be at the right place, at the right time. No one is awaiting me. It’s an advantage compared to the others.”

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