Nerea Marti wins at debut in Spanish Endurance Championship
W Series front-runner Nerea Marti continues her impressive progression in motorsport by claiming a class win at her first participation in the Spanish Endurance Championship on her home track at Valencia.
Nerea Martí is a name that motor racing enthusiasts are going to hear a lot in the coming years.
After only two years in karting, Martí ended up winning the regional karting championship, becoming the first woman to do so; she would repeat the achievement the following season, having also competed at national level before stepping up to single seaters in 2019.
After just one year in F4, Nerea was selected for the all-female championship W Series, which returned to the track in 2021. As a rookie in F3 machinery, she scored a podium and was a consistent front-runner, ending in fourth place and as the best rookie.
As she gets ready for her sophomore campaign in W Series, Martí announced she would make her debut in touring cars and entered the GT Winter Series as part of the first ever official BMW Spain Motorsport line up.
Together with experienced racer José Manuel de los Milagros, Nerea learned quickly and was immediately on the class podium, then claiming her first win at the second round of the winter championship at Estoril, Portugal.
The four-event season was a great opportunity for Martí to learn the secrets of closed-wheel racing and she entered the final round at Barcelona with overall title ambitions. They would finish second, adding more podiums to their name.
The experience was crucial ahead of the start of the GT-CER, the Spanish Endurance Championship, which kicked off its 2022 season last weekend at Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.
And, on her home track, Martí once again delivered brilliantly.
At the wheel of the #81 BMW M2 CS Racing machine, José Manuel De Los Milagros and Nerea Martí picked up where they left off in the GT Winter Series and their performance throughout the weekend led the series promoters to move the fast duo from the D2 class to the top touring car category, the D1 class, after practice.
After a wet Saturday practice at Circuito Ricardo Tormo, Martí took part in the first qualifying session on Sunday morning. With a 1:51.300 lap achieved in wet conditions, Nerea signed the fastest lap of the session that put the young Spaniard in first place in class.
Later, De Los Milagros would hit the track for Q2 in improved conditions and set a 1:50.281 that sealed pole position ahead of the Audi RS3 LMS TCR driven by Pereira/Pereira.
The first race started at noon with home hero Nerea Martí behind the wheel of the #81 BMW M2 CS Racing. Nerea led the D1 class throughout her stint and, 27 minutes into the race, she took the way of the pitlane to hand over to De Los Milagros.
Thanks to the comfortable gap built by Martí, the driver from Madrid managed the race in the second half of the competition and crossed the finish line to win the first round of the season – Nerea Martí's first ever race in GT-CER.
The victory resulted in a 15-second time penalty during the pit stop of the second race, as per regulations to balance out the competition. Second and third placed competitors also receive a 5-second extra time during the driver change.
José Manuel De Los Milagros led the opening stages of the second race from pole position, until one of their rivals went for a gap and passed him just before the pit window opened.
At the pit stop, the extra time handicap proved to be crucial and the #10 Audi RS3 LMS TCR of Pereira got out ahead of Nerea Martí, who then couldn't close the gap enough to attempt a pass for the lead.
Martí took the chequered flag after 28 laps in second place in D1 class - also claiming victory in the Junior and Ladies trophies.
With a victory and a second place in the first out of the six rounds of the Spanish Endurance Championship, the Martí-De Los Milagros duo now lead the standings tied on points with the Portuguese team of Jorge M. Pereira and Pedro A. Pereira.
“We are very happy with the results of this weekend" – Nerea commented, with her eyes set on more victories despite having just started her journey in touring cars. "We already know the car both in dry and in wet conditions and this is very positive for the next races."
The preparation of the GT Winter Series is proving to be important mileage and Martí is now eager for more, before the start of her W Series commitments.
"We are really looking forward to racing again in Portimão together with the DTM" – she concluded. The second round is in fact scheduled to be on the supporting bill of the popular German GT championship, which is set to be held over the weekend of April 30th at the Portuguese Algarve circuit.