Isidre Esteve is prepared to return to the forefront of motorsport. Today in Barcelona, he's unveiled his most ambitious project since he's been racing with cars. For the first time, Isidre will be using a competitive 4x4 which he plans to début in Repsol Rally Team colours next weekend in Baja Aragón. "I'm really quite thrilled with this project because it represents an important step in getting back to elite competition", said Esteve.
Since he's been competing on four wheels, Isidre Esteve's been pining to measure himself against the very best in equal conditions, in terms of mechanics. Almost a decade later and in the company of the Repsol Rally Team, the chance has come for him to drive the closest thing there is to an official car. We're talking about a powerful BV6 prototype with a 3-litre, 335-hp BMW biturbo diesel engine with a tube frame and sequential manual transmission. A T1.2 (4x4 all-terrain modified diesel) whose main peculiarity, due to Isidre's muscle injuries, are the adapted hand controls on the steering wheel.
"Driving this kind of machine really motivates me. I feel like I'm starting a new chapter with a truly competitive automobile. During the first test drive in France I was having a brilliant time and I didn't want to stop. Its handling is exceptional. It's got power, speed, grip... I'll need a bit of time to get myself acclimated to it, especially the sequential transmission, which I'm not used to", explained an excited Isidre Esteve.
With regards to his new project, Isidre points out the warm reception he's got from the French preparation company Sodicars Racing, who are taking care of the mechanic's work on his 4x4. He's also happy to have with him three members of his original core team: his trusted mechanic, David Pigem, his co-driver, Txema Villalobos, and his significant other and physical trainer Lidia Guerrero. "We all find ourselves quite comfortable, and we're excited about achieving great things together", he explained.
On this new and exciting adventure, Isidre Esteve will not only have the help of his main sponsors: Repsol, Onyx Seguros, and KH-7. He'll also have the support of the different companies which have been with him since the beginning: "I've got to thank my sponsors for helping me grow as a driver, especially KH-7 and most of all their director, Josep Maria Lloreda, who's believed in me since the beginning".
At this morning's official presentation ceremony in Barcelona, Francisco Miranda (Repsol's Director of Lubricants for Spain) said "with this sponsorship, Repsol wants to put its lubricants to the test in some of the world's most demanding motorsport competitions. What we learn from the competitions will help our scientists at the Repsol Technology Lab design better products for the end user market". It's relevant to note that the oils used in competition, as well as the feel Isidre Esteve gets from his car during races, will assist in defining the proper viscosimetry and additive technology for each of the products in our range of Repsol lubricants.
Araceli Ruiz (Director of Human Resources and Communication for MGS Seguros – Onyx), noted that “having Isidre Esteve here unites us with that spirit of overcoming adversity and permanent improvement that emanates from all of his sport activity, as well as incredible personal example, which is an inspiration to be more competitive, provide better service to our customers, and to continue carrying out our business project with efficiency and a competitive attitude. Onyx Seguros provides insurance products and services via internet since 2013, and from the beginning we've collaborated as sponsors in Isidre Esteve's various projects in sport as well as with the Isidre Esteve Foundation—for every policy purchase or renewal with Onyx, we donate €1 to the Foundation".
Isidre Esteve's season kicks off this Friday in Baja Aragón, a scored test for the Spanish Off-Road Rally Championship and the Cross-Country Rally World Cup, which will be held until Sunday the 23rd in Teruel on a demanding 500-mile (800-kilometre) timed course. "It'll be an ideal setting for the project's first run because it's the best European rally raid, with impeccable organisation, and it's a rally at the highest level. The goal will be to learn, to get used to the car, and to be as competitive as possible and remain right behind the official teams", Isidre Esteve said.
In addition to Baja Aragón the programme for the Repsol Rally Team includes the Rally of Morocco (4–10 October) and the 2018 Dakar Rally (6–20 January). "The calendar has been put together perfectly and should let us get to Dakar in perfect conditions. Baja Aragón will be ideal to start getting the feel of the car, and Morocco will let us test it on surfaces similar to what we'll find in South America. On top of that, between one race and the next we've got enough time to react and resolve possible mechanical setbacks which may arise", Isidre Esteve explains.
For Isidre, 2018 will be his third Dakar by car and his 13th in total, counting the 10 he did on motorbike before the muscle injury he sustained in 2007 due to a fall in Baja Almanzora (Almería), where he fractured his T7 and T8 vertebrae. Since then, and with the help of his smart cushion, Isidre Esteve has become an example of overcoming adversity, which has let him continue to practise his great passion: motorsport.