Alba Vazquez seals third in standings, becomes Spanish Female touring car Champion
At her first season in race cars, Alba Vazquez sealed third place in the Spanish Touring Car Championship (CET), also claiming the Female Trophy.
The drivers of CET (Spanish Touring Car Championship), sharing the grid with TCR Spain, headed to Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, for the final round of the 5-event season, at the home of Spanish motorsport that traditionally rounds out the RFEDA Racing Weekend year.
And the title fight was wide open, with several drivers still in contention for the 2022 crown.
Marco Aguilera (VRS eSport) entered the final weekend with a 69 point advantage over Erik Zabala (MRT), but also Alba Vazquez (MRT) remained in contention, with 334 points on her tally.
Vazquez, 19, in her first season in race cars after graduating from karting, had a remarkable season, having scored six podium finishes in the four triple-headers leading to the season finale. One month ago, at Navarra, Vazquez made history and became the first female racer to take victory in CET, when she stepped on top of the podium in race 2.
The result put the young Spaniard in the battle for the overall title, as well as for the Female Trophy. At the wheel of the MRT Hyundai i30N Fastback CET, Marta Ariza had also scored two podium finishes at Jarama and Jerez.
Consistency, though, was definitely Vazquez's strength ahead of the final round, as the Asturian driver of the #22 Honda Civic Type R CET aimed for another big result.
Unfortunately, it all went wrong for Vazquez on Saturday, when she was involved in a high-speed accident that left her car significantly damaged. Her weekend was over before it had even started - as she could not take part in qualifying.
"Barcelona gave us the worst of the season, on Saturday with an accident that left us without any option to take the car out on track, an indescribable frustration and impotence because we knew that this weekend we would fly on the track" - Vazquez summed up.
Marco Aguilera took his third pole position of the year in the 30-minute session in a very warm autumn day at Circuit de Catalunya; Aguilera held position at the start and tried to build a gap on Sergio Casalins and Erik Zabala.
The race leader, though, hit trouble on lap 9, when mechanical issues dropped him to fourth place - and allowed his main championship rival Erik Zabala to take the lead.
After Samuel Pineda also slowed down for a technical issue and eventually stopped in pitlane, Aguilera moved into third place - but Zabala's victory had kept his title chances alive.
Pineda started from reverse grid pole on Sunday morning - in colder conditions. With a new engine bolted on overnight, championship leader Marco Aguilera only had to finish to clinch the title - and he did so by claiming a second place in race 2.
Erik Zabala immediately moved in the lead and never looked back, opening a gap of over 10 seconds - but his victory wasn't enough to keep the title fight alive into race 3.
Behind Zabala, Aguilera had cleared Casalins and Pineda, and became the 2022 CET champion - the youngest ever in the series' history, at 16 years of age.
In race 3, the newly-crowned champion claimed the final pole position of the season; Segio Casalins, though, had the better start and took the lead at lights out, as Aguilera and Zabala battled for second. The two ended up making contact at Turn 1, with Aguilera being pushed in the gravel and ultimately rejoining at the tail-end of the field.
Zabala recovered to second, but was handed a drive through penalty for the incident. Casalins, meanwhile, stretched his legs at the top of the leaderboard and won his second race of the year in CET, preceding Samuel Pineda.
Despite being out of the three final races, Alba Vazquez was able to retain third place in the overall championship - an outstanding result for the young racer, at her series debut - and was crowned winner of the Female Trophy.
"Summing up the year, we have achieved what we would never have thought", Alba explained. "The adaptation, the progression and the work of not only me, but all the people behind me is indescribable."
Vazquez's development through the races has been impressive, also thanks to a good team dynamic at Teo Martin Motorsport.
She concludes her rookie season with 334 points, six podiums and one race win.
"Another stage closes, with a view to 2023 where hopefully great challenges await me, but with the sadness of ending the season with some people with whom I have shared such incredible moments", she concluded - as we await to learn her next racing plans for an even more successful 2023.