Q&A with Mato Homola
Slovakian star Homola gets TC1 chance for home WTCC race
Mato Homola will get a big opportunity to demonstrate his talent on a global stage when he makes his debut in a TC1 World Touring Car in WTCC Race of Slovakia next week (19-21 June).
The 20-year-old rising star, a frontrunner in the FIA European Touring Car Cup, will drive a Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 in rounds 11 and 12 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the Slovakia Ring. His participation in the event underlines the ETCC’s role as a launch pad for drivers hoping to shine in the WTCC in the future.
And it will be a busy weekend for the Slovakian. Not only will he contest both WTCC races, he will also chase ETCC success in his Homola Motorsport-run SEAT León Cup Racer.
“This is a big chance for me and one I am determined to make the most of,” said Homola, runner-up in last year’s ETCC TC2T category. “It’s not very often that you get the opportunity to race in a world championship event but when it’s in your home country it makes it even more special. Of course I want to achieve a strong result but I also need to be realistic. I need to learn a more powerful and technically advanced car against a very strong field of international drivers. But while I don’t have experience of TC1 competition, at least I can count on the support of the home fans at a track I know very well and like very much.”
Ruben Espin, Team Manager, Campos Racing, said: “We have been working with Mato to achieve his goal since last summer when he tested one of our TC1 cars at Barcelona and confirmed his potential. We are very pleased that Mato is joining our young driver programme at Campos Racing, where, as a private team, our strategy is to develop drivers with great potential to become factory drivers in the future. Hugo Valente and John Filippi are already part of this programme and are making great progress. Mato will now get the same opportunity to show everybody he is ready for the WTCC and, moreover, score points for Campos Racing in the Yokohama Teams’ Trophy.”
Francois Ribeiro, the WTCC General Manager, said he was delighted that an ETCC driver has been given the opportunity to race in the world’s premier touring car series. “The ETCC, which we also promote along with the WTCC, is a good platform to prepare the WTCC drivers of tomorrow and we hope that will be the case for Mato Homola, who continues to demonstrate great promise. It obviously won’t be easy for him but chances like this don’t come along very often and we are confident he will be able to make the most of this opportunity, gain some experience and demonstrate to potential sponsors in Slovakia that he is worthy of continued support. The automotive industry is by far the predominant sector of the economy in Slovakia so I hope Mato will become a flagship of his country and it’s great there will be a home driver for the fans to cheer on.”
Homola will join fellow young guns John Filippi, 20, and Hugo Valente, 22, in the Campos team. All three will be eligible for the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy for independent racers.
WTCC Race of Slovakia is the halfway point of the 2015 season. The Slovakia Ring, which measures 5.922 kilometres in length, is located close to Bratislava and has hosted the WTCC since 2012.
The 20-year-old rising star, who will drive a Campos Racing Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 in WTCC Race of Slovakia next week, looks ahead to his dream coming true when his country hosts rounds 11 and 12 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
You said in 2014 it would be a dream to race a TC1 car in the WTCC. Now that dream is coming true for your home race, how does that make you feel?
"It’s my big dream. We don’t have so much budget, so I have to thank my family and my sponsors. But also François Ribeiro from Eurosport Events, who has been very important in my participation in the WTCC and SEAT Slovakia, who support me in the ETCC and allowed me to take this WTCC wildcard entry."
What’s made you work so hard to get his drive?
"Since the end of last season we wanted to join the WTCC but we didn’t manage it because of the money. But we thought it would be really good to show my potential and show the Slovak fans I can be a hero by doing this race. I tested a TC1 car last year but really that was quite far away now and I don’t have a test before the race. It helps that the SEAT León I race in the ETCC is front-wheel drive and I obviously know the circuit."
Racing in the WTCC and ETCC during the same weekend will keep you busy. How will you cope?
"We knew from the beginning we will have two championships in one weekend. It’s possible to manage it. Sometimes there will not be much time between the sessions so it will be tough. But at least I will be in the racing mode and maybe that will be an advantage. I trained a lot mentally and physically because I knew this dream could come true. I believe I’m prepared. I just hope the weather is dry but not too hot."
What has the interest in Slovakia been like since you announced you’d be doing the WTCC race?
"From the fans and the press I see I have some good support and the TV is also supporting me. It’s great to show that motorsport can connect to the people even though it’s not so long that we have a circuit in Slovakia. I hope this is a new era for motorsport in Slovakia and I am the one starting it."
Where do you think you can finish in the races?
"It will be really tough but if I can do the maximum of my ability and give the maximum from my side then I will be happy. I Invite the Slovak fans to create a great atmosphere."
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