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  • Writer's pictureIGOR LAERTE

Bia Martins climbs the podium at the HB20 Racing Cup season opener

Brazilian driver Bia Martins achieved her second podium and a personal best in the first round of the 2024 season of the national touring car series based on the Hyundai HB20 machine, at Interlagos.

Bia Martins HB20 Racing Cup
Photo credits: Jackson de Souza

The HB20 Racing Cup - previously called HRacing Cup - started its second season on Brazilian tracks last Sunday, and just like in its debut year, Bia Martins guaranteed the female presence on the grid. 2023 had also been Martins' first year in touring car competitions and was highlighted by a podium in the 4th round, together with significant progress up the order in most of the races.

The 2024 HB20 Racing Cup calendar has 5 scheduled rounds and all will be held in the São Paulo region - 4 of them at the Interlagos Circuit. The opening round unfortunately started with some problems for Bia Martins in qualifying for race 1 and she had to start at the back of the grid, which features 24 vehicles. But despite the challenges that lay ahead, she once again showed her talent for overcoming them.

The drivers took to the track on the afternoon of Saturday - February 24th, and in the first corners there was an incident which Bia Martins was lucky not to get involved with. She gained 6 positions, completing lap 1 in P11 overall. However, it was not necessary to deploy the safety car and the track remained green.

On lap 7, Martins overtook Anderson Borges and moved up to 10th position - which also meant P5 and a place on the podium in her Super class. Two laps later, she would gain another position and another step to climb the podium, passing the #133 machine of Thiago Arns. Martins remained in 9th until she took the checkered flag, achieving an excellent result for the first race of the year.

"We started the championship on the right foot! We had an excellent recovery race, climbing the field and reaching the podium."

The following day, unfortunately an incident in race 2 made for an early end of the weekend for Bia Martins. The 24 drivers returned to the track on Sunday morning and this time Martins started among the front runners - in P9. It also meant she would be in a better position to fight for another podium – or even her first series win. And she did just that, fighting elbows out as long as she could!

Bia Martins HB20 Racing Cup
Photo credits: Jackson de Souza

When the lights went out, Bia Martins completed her first pass of the race, moving up to 8th place overall already in the first turns of Interlagos - the famous S of Senna.

She kept pushing, fighting with Matheus Sant'anna and Thiago Alvi for P6. Martins managed to make another overtake and started the second lap in seventh - her best position in the race.

In the following laps she fell back to ninth place overall, but spared no effort to try to recover. On lap 4, Bia had already regained P8 - third in the Super class - and on lap 6 she was already in a position to fight back for P7. Shortly afterwards, on the 7th lap, the incident happened which cut her weekend short earlier than expected.

After overtaking Alvi into turn 4, Bia ended up suffering contact with Dudu Petrelli's #12 car - which were fighting for P2 and P1 respectively in the Super class. With damage to her #55 car, Martins was forced to retire. At the time of the incident, Bia Martins had achieved second place in her class, and she would certainly have had a great chance of fighting for her first victory in the HB20 Racing Cup.

Bia Martins HB20 Racing Cup
Photo credits: HB20 Racing Cup

We spoke to Bia Martins and she shared the feeling of taking the podium in the first race of the 2024 season: "I didn't expect it, since our qualifying was a little bad because of the rain and I was a little far from the top 5, but everything worked together to work out. We started the championship on the right foot! We had an excellent recovery race, climbing the field and reaching the podium."

Despite the incident in race 2, while fighting for the top 3 she showed a great performance, also showcasing her evolution since last year in touring car racing. Which brings great expectations of new good results in the next rounds:

"I believe that we showed competitiveness and that we have evolved a lot since last year, so we are able to fight for the title this year", she said. "The expectation is to be able to score points in every round and reach the end of the championship with the title."

The HB20 Racing Cup will have a long break until the second round, which will only be held on March 5th, again in Interlagos. Until then, Bia Martins will continue working on her preparation and also behind the scenes of other national series, as a performance coach for other drivers, through her project PilotUp.



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