Campos Racing driver, Pepe Oriola, had what felt like a breakthrough season last year in the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR). Admittedly, the young Spaniard did taste success in the series during its previous guise as the WTCC, in the very early part of this decade. But after a few years away, Oriola firmly re-established himself on the World stage in 2018.
His seven podium finishes during the campaign – including a victory at the Slovakiaring – saw Oriola finish sixth in the overall drivers’ championship standings. Mathematically, he even had a chance of winning the World Cup as the series headed into the final round at Macau. On top of that, his performances appeared all the more impressive in comparison to his team-mate, John Filippi, who finished in the points just three times throughout the entire season in the second Campos Racing Cupra TCR.
For Oriola, there has been a racing connection with Cupra’s parent company, SEAT, for many years now. And with his career seemingly on an upward trajectory, the 24 year-old sees no need for that to change. In fact, he has his sights set on a long and prosperous career with the Spanish marque.
But, taking a moment to sit down with his team, Oriola took a look back at what was a terrific 2018 campaign:
“For me it was an exceptional season.” he said. “I finished sixth in a world cup, tied up in points with the fifth classified and only one point behind the fourth. It’s a great success taking into account how the season developed. If I had to highlight one great moment of the season, I would say it was Vila Real (Portugal), as it was a turning point (two podiums and a fourth place).”
“I would honestly say it [the series’ transition from TC1 to TCR regulations for 2018] was very positive. Now in the WTCR there are more manufacturers, very high level drivers and more competitiveness. Before [under the old WTCC rule set], as it happened in F1, there was a dominating manufacturer and it was possible that, before the start of the season, you already knew the winners. Reaching Macau with five points with mathematical options to the title was a great success for the WTCR.”
2018 may have been the first year for Cupra as a stand-alone marque, separate to SEAT, but for Oriola there were no teething issues with the newly-reorganised team:
“SEAT and CUPRA have always been my home, my family and my manufacturer. Since I was 15, when I made my debut with SEAT scoring a podium, I have always been with them. CUPRA was a step ahead for this year, without any doubt. I started the season with the target of scoring points, being regular and in the top ten. I’m the driver who classified in the top 10 most times, which took us and CUPRA to the top of the classification.”
Looking ahead to the future, Oriola is open to whatever the world of touring cars will throw at him (electrification included), however the ultimate aim is to become world champion:
“I hope and want to fight to become world champion and I’m already working to continue with CUPRA [next season]. I think the CUPRA e-Racer is going to be a talking point in the new ETCR. I hope to have the chance to test it next year. Competing in an electrical championship? I’m open to any possibilities in the world of touring cars and, of course, with electrical powertrains.”