24-year-old Andrea Roda is a rising star of the Auto GP World Series, and took a very popular maiden series win at the Red Bull Ring last month. The Virtuosi UK driver has been one of the most consistent drivers of 2014, and is currently sitting pretty in the top three of the championship.
Roda is competing in his second Auto GP season for the team, and has seen his results vastly improve from last year, and he has been a regular visitor to the podium in recent races, including that maiden series win in Austria.
“It’s a positive season; we missed the podium only in Marrakech and Le Castellet, so now I’m third in the championship,” said Roda to The Checkered Flag. “This means that with our consistent results we can compete for a really good position at the final part of the season. After my first win at Red Bull Ring, the team and I are positive for the next races.”
After a 2013 season where his best result was fourth at Mugello and Brno, Roda believed staying with Virtuosi UK for a second season was the best plan for himself so to build on what they achieved together last year. He admitted that pre-season, he was determined to better his best result from last year and get onto the podium for the first time.
“I wanted to continue in Auto GP with Virtuosi because the feeling with the team and the car was fantastic,” insisted Roda. “Also because we can continue the good job we did last year, and the results give us good satisfaction.
“At the start of the season my goal was to take a podium, and this goal we took at Budapest, and from there we continue to take the podium. We want to continue this way, and especially to fight for first.
“Of course after these podiums and the victory, I feel stronger than before and I can fight for a good place for the Championship. The high level of the competitors doesn’t make this easy but I like to compete with high-level drivers and fight with them.“
The beginning of the season began relatively well for the Virtuosi UK driver, although that first podium slipped out of his grasp on the last lap in Morocco when he made a mistake while running second. The weather ruined his chances in France, but he finally made that breakthrough onto the podium in Hungary in the first race at the Hungaroring, and followed that up with two more podiums at Monza and Imola in front of his home fans in Italy.
“The feeling was good, but in Marrakech I did a mistake when I was second, and so I miss my first podium,” reflected Roda. “At Le Castellet [France] we were competitive with dry, but heavy rain in Race 2 didn’t give us a good chance to take the podium.
“Budapest was a really good weekend; my first podium in Auto GP that give us extra power to continue to work and especially after that podium my championship position is better.”
After being close to that breakthrough win, Roda finally took the spoils in the second race in Austria, defeating his new Hungarian team-mate Tamas Pal Kiss in a straight fight for the victory, a win that was popular with everyone in the paddock.
“The win at the Red Bull Ring after four rounds on the podium was a gratification of all the labour we did,” said Roda. “That weekend the team and I did a great job, my pace during the race was very strong and the pit stop was amazing. It’s a strange feeling but you feel so happy inside your helmet that it’s indescribable with words.”
The win put Roda firmly in the battle for second place in the championship but feels a title charge is beyond him with Kimiya Sato of Campos Racing almost fifty points clear with only two race weekend’s to go.
“Honestly I think that to beat Sato is almost impossible, because he has to many points and we need maybe some more races to beat him,” stated Roda. “From second to fifth we are all close, so anything could happen. I can [only] do my best and try to take more podiums and especially some more strong points for the championship.”
The Italian feels his driving has improved over the past couple of seasons, but those improvements have come gradually as he adapted to the Auto GP cars and the strategy the series requires.
“I think that my improvements are coming step-by-step in these two years; working with the team and on myself, and the results are coming for the job we did,” said Roda. “I am improving my driving and my mind in strategy race by race.”
Roda had the opportunity to race in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series event at Monaco for the Comtec Racing team as part of the Formula 1 support races. He was happy to be there even if the weekend was a tough baptism of fire for the Italian, who had never driven around the streets of the principality before.
“The Comtec Racing deal came from the good relationship they have with my team Virtuosi UK, so they proposed me [to do] this fantastic event and I couldn’t say no,” said Roda. “After Monaco I had vastly more experience, because I learnt many new things in a very difficult circuit track.”
Looking ahead, the Italian is focused on this season right now to get the best result possible in the championship, and will look to his future after the final race in Estoril in Portugal in October. He might have the option to return to Formula Renault 3.5, or move to a series like GP2 or GP3.
“I don’t know yet [where I will be in 2015], because I want to focus my energy for the final Auto GP rounds, after these I can think about my future,” said Roda. “ is very important, [though] I can’t imagine my life without motorsport.”