Wednesday | 14 Sep 2022

Role model Fernández encourages next generation of female talent

Two-time FIA European Rally Championship co-drivers’ champion Sara Fernández hopes to inspire more female competitors to aim for the top of the sport.

Fernández and driver Efrén Llarena were crowned 2022 champions in the lead up to last month’s Barum Czech Rally Zlín - marking the Spanish co-driver’s second ERC title in as many years. 

She began co-driving on national rallies back in 2005 and climbed her way up the ranks through various low-level championships before joining forces with Llarena in 2016, where the pair won the Suzuki Swift Cup on their debut season together.

Three years later the duo lifted the ERC3 Junior title with a front-wheel drive Peugeot 208 R2 and they signed for Team MRF Tyres’ top-flight squad at the beginning of this season.

Reflecting on her success, Fernández explained how she hopes to set an example to fellow female competitors by proving that they too can reach the higher echelons of the sport. 

“I think it’s very important,” said Fernández. “In regional and local rallies there are a lot of female co-drivers, but in international programmes you don’t see so many women. For me, it’s a big thing. 

“I started in small championships and cups - like the Suzuki Cup and also the Peugeot Cup in France, so I began from the lowest point. I would like to be a representative of the girls and women of the next generation to show that they can do it. They can start even at the lowest level and make it to the top,” she added.

Fernández admitted this year’s championship win felt extra-special compared to 2021, when Llarena finished second to Andreas Mikkelsen in the drivers’ title race.

“To be honest, this year it feels a lot more special than last year because we won it together and I think that’s important,” she said. “Last I year I won it alone, and it’s not the same. 

“Efrén did an amazing job this year and so did all the team, the mechanics and everybody. To achieve this all together is just amazing.”