Cristiana Oprea will “learn from the best” when she makes her FIA European Rally Championship debut on Rally di Roma Capitale (19-21 July).
An architect turned rally driver, Oprea is a strong supporter of the FIA’s Women in Motorsport initiative, establishing the Romanian platform Femeiinmotorsport.ro.
She launched her bid to step up to the ERC in January following two seasons competing in her national championship and will go up against ERC Ladies’ Trophy winners past and present, Catie Munnings and Emma Falcón, when she contests Italy’s all-asphalt counter later this week.
“After two full seasons in the Romanian championship, it was a natural curiosity to discover a higher level of rallying,” said Oprea. “I always wanted to learn from the best, to work hard and be a part of top-level motorsport and I consider ERC the perfect place to evolve as a rally driver. I am also a big admirer of former ERC Ladies’ Trophy winners Ekaterina Stratieva and Catie Munnings and being able to follow their steps is part of my dream.
“My story yet has a twist: me and my co-driver, Diana Hațegan, competed last year in the FIA European Rally Trophy event in Sliven, Bulgaria, when we discovered we were the first Romanian ladies-only rally crew in the last 50 years to compete in a foreign rally. This made me want to do more in representing Romanian women athletes, and I wanted to break the barrier and become, together with Diana, the first Romanian ladies crew to compete in the ERC. I am a strong supporter of the FIA Women in Motorsport movement and I am also the founder of the Romanian WIM platform, Femeiinmotorsport.ro,so I have embraced the mission of dismantling the female stereotype in motorsport and in society.”
Oprea, who combines her rallying career with her work as an automotive journalist, web designer and motorsport public relations professional, will switch from her regular Dacia to a Peugeot 208 R2 for Rally di Roma Capitale, an event recommended to her by Romanian rally champion Simone Tempestini.
“Since January we were exploring ERC opportunities and Roma seemed to have it all – beautiful stages, a very good mass-media coverage and manageable accommodation and transport costs. Then again, Italy has a big Romanian community and Simone Tempestini competed previously in this event and he gave us some useful information as a starting point. It being my first rally with an R2-spec car I also feel more confident on Tarmac.”
Of her targets for Rally di Roma Capitale, Oprea has a clear plan. “My goal is to learn the car as much as I can and to constantly grow the pace with each stage. We are here for the whole experience, so we want to reach the finish and enjoy this moment, which for sure opens a new chapter for women in Romanian motorsport. My dream, in the future, is to bring home the ERC Ladies’ Trophy and I hope we can build a whole ERC calendar for next year with the support of our partners. The budget is the main challenge, because my last two seasons were 100 per cent funded by myself and my mum, so now we fully rely on attracting sponsors.”