"This is the first time I've been in first place going into a final race so obviously I'm going to give it my all to try and win the title." Those were the words of Alba Cano who spoke to SUR just before the most important races of the year and, probably, one of the most important in her sporting development.
To add to her achievements, it must be pointed out that this series is not only for women. Cano saw off several male opponents, with some teams using more than one driver too. Instead, she rode on her own in every race except for in Barcelona where the race is longer than the others (almost two hours, rather than 50 minutes). There, Cano and her team, Monlau-Repsol, chose David Cebrián, a trusted partner and expert on the Cupra TCR that she drives.
Big life changes
2019 has been a year of big emotions and changes for Cano who on Sunday could barely contain her delight at being proclaimed champion of Spain. This moment was the culmination of 20 years of work which all began at the age of six when she first discovered the adrenaline rush which comes with being on a track.
"At home, I always used to watch Formula 1 with my dad and one day he took me to a karting track and I loved it," she told SUR in an interview last year. But after begging him day after day for a competition kart, at the age of 12 she got her reward. "One day he got fed up with me and bought me a kart."
"My mum insisted that I wasn't allowed to compete, just do laps on Sundays but the first day that she couldn't make it, I made a team and we were already thinking about competing," she admitted.
From then on, Cano started to rack up podium finishes in regional and national championships and soon came a time when she had to choose between touring cars, rallying and the formulas. "I didn't like rallies, the formulas were unattainable in terms of budget so I opted for touring cars," she said.
After studying Mechanical Engineering at the Universidad Politécnica de Málaga, Cano first went to the United Kingdom to study a Masters degree in the same subject in Oxford. She then moved to Brighton where she had to work as a technical consultant while still pursuing her motor racing career.
"Racing doesn't give me enough to make a living from it. You can only live off it if you have a backer or a brand supporting you, and even then it only really covers racing costs. Many of us survive by doing events with brands like Mercedes, Renault... We test their cars and show how far they can go," she said.