WTCC Q&A: Néstor Girolami
Néstor Girolami has a dream opportunity to shine in this season’s FIA World Touring Car Championship following his agreement to drive for Polestar Cyan Racing, Volvo’s factory team, in WTCC 2017.
The 28-year-old, nicknamed Bebu, talks Swedish cuisine, top team-mates and emulating his hugely successful fellow Argentine and one-time nemesis José María López.
What does it mean to you to have this opportunity to drive for Polestar Cyan Racing in the WTCC?
“For me it’s a spectacular moment, I am really happy. To be honest I am extremely grateful to get this opportunity with Polestar Cyan Racing. The first race with them in Japan last year was really promising. I felt right at home with the team and this is very important for me. Basically I hope together with everyone in the team, Thed [Björk] and Nicky [Catsburg], we can take the next step forward to try to gain the championship.”
How big an opportunity is this?
“This will be the best opportunity in my career. This year will be a complete season, very different for me. I have a very strong team behind me so I need to learn as much as possible, not only on the track but before the track in the simulator to do a lot of laps to know the car, the speed at every corner.”
And you’re doing everything possible to make it work by living in Sweden?
“It’s very different the life in Sweden because the weather is very different for me. Summer is very nice I understand but for a driver it’s not a problem because we are travelling all the time, testing and race are very busy times. I am looking forward to starting the season in the car and previously in the simulator. But in the case of the weather, when it’s cold I take more clothes but I really appreciate the effort from the team to put this car on track and push for the championship.”
What about Swedish cuisine, are you a fan?
“It’s a little bit spicy for me. Because the weather is too cold they need to eat spicy food! But I am very comfortable with the team and my apartment here. I am only 15 minutes to the office so it’s perfect for me.”
How much testing have you done?
“I have been testing a lot of times so I felt a really good balance with the car and maybe the next step will be to be more precise for where we are because when you test alone you don’t know how you are in terms of time.”
Are you confident you can challenge for the title?
“I feel really confident. To be honest I am preparing very hard to give my best, to try to learn as much as possible because I need to learn the tracks, the car. But I feel really confident with this car and this team because they are working very hard for one goal, to gain the championship.”
You talking about learning tracks but are you a quick learner?
“Motegi in Japan I didn’t know but we were very fast in the first Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 as well. In this moment you have a lot of things to learn the track, you have a simulator and if you have this tool you need to use it to arrive at the track in the best way.”
How much pressure do you feel?
“I don’t feel pressure. For me it’s a good challenge so I don’t feel pressure to be honest. I feel very confident with this team, with my team-mates, they are very good drivers and they are going to push very hard and this is what we need, to push very hard to try to keep up the level. I think we are going to do a very good job together.”
With no José María López on the grid this year you’ll be Argentina’s new factory driver in the WTCC. What do you think of what he achieved?
“López did a very good job in the WTCC. He put the category to another level and for me he’s a very good driver. I raced with him in a lot of championships, I was twice champion in Súper TC2000 in 2014 and 2015 and he was champion in 2013 so I know him very well. Maybe it could be a very good opportunity for me.”
What can you do about emulating his achievements?
“He took advantage of three very good years for Citroën but for him as well. I also have a big opportunity like he did so, for me, this year will be very interesting and I will do my best.”