The unknown side of Pechito López: his past as a striker and his present on a bicycle with which he traveled 120 kilometers

Pechito López is seventh at the Vuelta Altas Cumbres.  Photo: Cristian Palacio / Altas Cumbres Experience
Pechito López is seventh at the Vuelta Altas Cumbres. Photo: Cristian Palacio / Altas Cumbres Experience

José Maria Pechito Lopez had a tough debut in the new season of the World of the Resistance. The Cordovan was the protagonist of a shocking accident at more than 200 kilometers per hour and the images have generated a blanket of concern in motorsport. Fortunately, Cordovan came out unscathed and “stronger” for the continuation of the international championship.

In the last few days, before leaving for Belgium to face the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchampsthe virtuoso pilot took advantage of his days off to return to his homeland and dare new challenges. chest changed his helmet to venture into Back to the High Peaksone of the competitions in Mountain biking more demanding than the country which has a complex plant in terms of relief and extension. The race was part of the calendar High peaks experienceheld from 25 to 27 March in Mina Clavero with open water tests in the La Viña dam e track race with distances between 5 and 60 kilometers.

—How did you feel after covering 120 kilometers on a route full of difficulties?

– It was a very nice experience. It wasn’t the first time, because I started with the bike a couple of years ago. It is an activity that helps me a lot to push myself physically and contributes to my preparation for competitions. Sometimes a lot of time goes by between races and it’s a way to stay focused on my goals.

—In a discipline where you have competed against other cyclists who are accustomed and prepared for these challenges, you surprised with a seventh place, how does it feel?

-I enjoyed myself. It was my second race and I was surprised with the result. Finishing in seventh place gave me great satisfaction. It was a new challenge, because it is a struggle against oneself. It is a very complex race, due to the number of kilometers and the irregularity of the course. I liked it because it was an inner struggle in which I was able to overcome the fears related to the times that one proposed. Although I was surprised by the seventh place; I like to do things well and I always try to improve. My mentality is like this: I never do things by halves. That’s why I don’t think it was a coincidence or a gift; the result is linked to the work of each one. It was the product of the cure. The Vuelta Altas Cumbres also allowed me to get to know places in Córdoba that I did not know. Mostly because of the Río Terzo Reservoir, which is close to where I live. I would like to be able to attend more of these events, but sometimes it conflicts with my schedule.

—Accustomed to the Endurance World Championship, you test yourself on two wheels with a course of 120 kilometers …

– Compared to what I do on the car, it’s not that extreme (laughs). I have always been very disciplined with training and after what happened to me in Formula 1 my mind changed. The bike was an added asset to continue my day, because I work on the heart rate that I have on the top of the car and it helps me to fine-tune the weight, which is essential for the races I compete in. Since many drivers also race when I’m in Monaco (N / A: Brendon Hartley, Mike Conway and Daniel Ricciardo are some of them), I’ve joined them several times. Now I am ready for this challenge and as I am extremely competitive, I wanted to make a career before returning to Europe. It was a way to disconnect a little from what happened last time.

—You also took advantage of the time to go see Belgrano and treat yourself to a dose of the passion of the Pirates fan …

—Yes, when I lived in Córdoba I went on the pitch a lot and now I have been able to use the time to return. It reminds me a lot of my childhood, because as a child I always went there with my father. I hadn’t been there in a long time and it was great.

—Is there a footballing past in your life, what was Pechito López like on the pitch?

-(Laugh). As a child I had a lot of energy and my parents let me try a lot of sports. When I was playing football they put me in the lane or forward on the outside. He was an 11 with little technique, but a lot of speed.

“You just said you had to unplug from what happened in 1000 miles of Sebring, what analysis can you make of the accident?

“Thank God it was nothing but a scare.” It was a huge blow to the ego. The cars are very safe and even though it was a hit at over 200km / h I managed to get off on my own. Even the next day I managed to get back on track. They checked for internal injuries and I was discharged. I had some pain in my spine and back from the impact, but that was all. It was a shame because you don’t want to make these kinds of mistakes, but it’s the risk that this kind of races run. Sometimes you pass between 10 and 15 cars per lap, with amateur and professional drivers, and in that thousandth you can make a wrong decision and these things happen.

The Argentine driver crashed in the first round of the FIA ​​WEC championship

—What went through your mind at that moment when you lost control of the car?

—I didn’t have time to think, because I was already very close to the edge of the track and I wanted to let the cars coming from behind pass. At the time, I didn’t know I didn’t have steering and front brake because the bib had fallen just at that moment. It was a moment that I would not have wished for anyone, because suddenly the wall collapsed on me. If you hit a wall at 50 km / h with a tram, it generates a lot of impressions, imagine going at more than 200 km / h. It all happened very quickly and you had to be prepared for the impact.

—Although pilots live with permanent risk, when you see the images you don’t think about rethinking some things. These are dangerous situations …

-Never. He was an apprenticeship. You have to move on, because as an athlete you don’t have the privilege of staying focused for long on what happened. These are experiences that teach. You have to analyze what happened to try to prevent it from happening again. I definitely came out stronger for what’s to come.

– Despite the accident, will you try to fight for the title again?

-The reality is that it made us lose a lot, because they are short leagues. We have to think that in races like Le Mans we do the number of kilometers that a Formula 1 car does in an entire championship. It would be impossible to have a tournament with 20 endurance races. It will be difficult to recover those points, but at the 24 Hours of Le Mans we can save the year. There is no need to look back and think about what’s to come.

—You made history in the mythical French race, do you think you repeat?

—Winning Le Mans was one of my biggest goals and it was great to achieve it. It was a long time before an Argentine won there again (Editor’s note: 67 years old). It is a very difficult competition, which requires a lot. The first dream had been that of being able to be there, and when it came true you wanted to win. And now I want to win it again (laughs).

—How do you stay calm when it’s not your turn to drive during those races?

—You suffer when you’re not on top of the car, but you also learn a lot. When one goes down he is replaced by a driver of equal or better rank. The level is very high and there is confidence. In addition, it generates an excellent relationship with teammates. There is a friendship that goes beyond car sharing.

—And in your personal life do you also suffer when you have to share the car?

Yes, it hurts a lot more. When I leave it to my wife, I suffer a lot. I find it difficult to leave the key (laughs).

—In the past you have competed (and overtaken) against several rivals who have had the privilege of racing in Formula 1, what do you think was the reason why you didn’t get it?

—Many times you have to be at the right time and place. Formula 1 only has room for 20 drivers, of which less than half come with very substantial financial support. It is still a sport where sponsors can make a difference. Especially for the smaller teams, which can be a springboard for the younger ones. It was not given to me due to the absence of such support. At the time Piquet had been loaded into Renault and it was very difficult to understand why. I saw that there were guys I had already beaten in other categories, but when I grew up I realized how many things in sport work. I have no reproaches, because I needed a lot of experience. Maybe if I had arrived in Formula 1 I would not have achieved the results I got after. Maybe I wouldn’t have been awarded the five world championships that I have been able to enjoy. I learned to enjoy motorsports in a different way when I discovered that there were other important categories besides Formula 1. There are many talented drivers who could not race at Máxima.

—Today with the experience you have, what would you have preferred: racing in Formula 1 in a team with no ambitions to fight for the lead or to be protagonist in other categories?

—That’s a good question … If I was given a choice, I think I’d stick with what happened to me. I don’t think I would have liked to have participated in Formula 1 without the chance to fight for the lead. However, if I had had the opportunity to race in Formula 1 I would have loved it; but getting to the rear is not what I would have preferred. This is why I keep what happened to me, where we were able to have a leading role and win very important championships.

—What was your relationship with Fernando Alonso like during your days as a Formula 1 test driver?

—It’s funny because I got to know Fernando well when he was part of the Toyota team. When we were at Renault, I only saw it on the list for testing. When I arrived in the previous days to test the car, he wasn’t there yet because he had just arrived on the last day. We had no relationship. Also, I don’t know if he knew me at the time. Later, at Toyota, we shared tests and races and I was lucky enough to get to know him much better. He is an exceptional driver.

– Despite what has happened to you, do you follow the activity of Formula 1 closely?

—Yes, I’m very passionate and I follow her to death. Ferrari surprised me, even though the teams had already talked about what it could do. Obviously we see that the Ferrari engine is doing very well, because even teams like Haas or Alfa Romeo, who have it, are doing very well and finish very high. I think Red Bull will give them a fight, while Mercedes have stood out for the amount of ground they have lost. The cycles end and Mercedes has long dominated Formula 1; and now it is good that the new generations take center stage as the constant struggle between Declercq and Verstappen.

The recognition of Pechito López after facing the challenge of the Vuelta Altas Cumbres
The recognition of Pechito López after facing the challenge of the Vuelta Altas Cumbres

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