Last month’s World RX of Germany was quite the weekend for Pablo Suárez. At the end of the qualifying stages, he admitted that his morale was low and he was in ‘the worst possible situation’. Just 12 hours later, he was standing up on the FIA RX2e Championship podium for the first time – and making history in the process.
Coming from a predominantly rally-based background, Suaréz entered the inaugural RX2e season short on rallycross experience in comparison with the majority of his rivals, but a dedicated and assiduous approach has yielded consistent progress over the course of the campaign.
After narrowly missing out on a rostrum result on his debut in the Catalunya curtain-raiser, the Spaniard struggled for speed on the less familiar tracks of Höljes and Lohéac, before bouncing back with a more competitive display at Spa-Francorchamps that yielded fifth place in the final.
Heading to the Nürburgring, he was embroiled in a tense three-way fight for third spot in the title standings with Patrick O’Donovan and Isak Sjökvist, and despite the distinctly wintry start to the weekend – unaccustomed conditions for the Gran Canaria native – he immediately served signal of his intent, posting the fourth-quickest time amongst the ten high-calibre contenders in free practice.
A spin on the ice while leading his race in Q1 and contact in both Q3 and Q4, however, were not part of the plan, and restricted Suárez to a lowly and frustrated eighth position in the intermediate rankings.
Digging deep, he battled his way into the final with a gritty semi-final effort, and from the back row of the grid, then took full advantage of a first corner skirmish to rise to third, getting the better of championship runner-up Jesse Kallio in a brief wheel-to-wheel duel.
Although he subsequently had to give best to the Finn’s prodigious pace, Suaréz exploited his own impressive turn-of-speed to gain the undercut on Sjökvist through the joker laps. In so doing, he secured his maiden RX2e podium – a milestone result for a Spanish driver in a major international rallycross competition – and with it, the coveted third place in the championship table.
Lapping faster than newly-crowned champion Guillaume De Ridder and taking the chequered flag just seven tenths-of-a-second adrift of Kallio, his stellar performance deservedly earned the 29-year-old the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ accolade – as voted for by fans on the World RX social media pages. As he looked back afterwards, he did so with a justifiable sense of pride.
“It was an incredible weekend, although it didn’t start the way I’d hoped,” Suárez acknowledged. “I was very unhappy with myself after qualifying. Several small errors dropped me down the classification and knocked my morale a bit, so it was a big relief to make it through to the final. Being at the back, I knew I needed something to happen, and when I saw my chance at the start, I went for it. It was a very tight race and probably my best of the season.
“It was definitely a weekend of strong emotions, from seeing myself in the worst possible situation in qualifying to turning everything around to achieve my first podium in an RX2e event, which was a great result for me.
“Thanks to all my sponsors, family, friends and fans who have believed in me and in this project – perhaps even more than I believed in myself – and to the entire QEV Technologies team for the magnificent work that has been done to bring this championship to life. I owe particular thanks to my spotter, Juli Mundet, who helped me a lot over a weekend that was complicated from the beginning and guided me in the final as if I had a co-driver on my right.
“Indeed, coming from rallying, I had to get used to not having a co-driver this year and racing directly against other drivers. I had to work hard on how to manage everything, since the action all happens so fast in rallycross. That was the biggest challenge for me, and I still have work to do in that respect. To finish third in the championship at the end is just awesome – I would never have believed that would be possible back at the beginning of the season. I’m really happy.”