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The “underrated” Mexican who made an ideal associate

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Adrian Fernandez wasn’t quick on top of the range team-mates throughout a profitable profession in US open-wheel racing that yielded 11 victories throughout CART and the Indy Racing League, then subsequently in sportscars. The 2000 CART runner-up charges Scott Pruett extremely from their time at Patrick Racing in 1998, whereas early in his profession at Galles in 1993 he labored alongside Indianapolis 500 winners Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Jr.

However for his favorite team-mate, the Mexican singles out compatriot Luis Diaz, after three years collectively within the American Le Mans Collection culminated within the LMP2 title for his personal Fernandez Racing operation in 2009. That 12 months’s success, amid a worldwide monetary disaster that contributed to trimming a as soon as thriving class right down to a full-time entry of simply three P2 automobiles, just isn’t the important thing consider Fernandez’s alternative. He regards his time alongside Diaz as “most likely the three most enjoyable years I’ve ever had in racing when it comes to no strain, having enjoyable with the staff”.

Working with Diaz, who partnered Pruett to a few wins en-route to second within the 2005 and 2006 Grand-Am standings, was central to that enjoyment. Fernandez praises him for being a staff participant who was keen to hear.

“Regardless that I used to be his boss, we had a implausible relationship,” says Fernandez of Diaz, 14 years his junior. “He’s a really enjoyable man and a really underrated driver. He’s excellent; Luis Diaz might be among the finest drivers in my automobile I ever had. The staff was actually gelled collectively and we have been very robust in these lengthy races.”

Testomony to that’s the truth that, as a pair, they completed third total and second in school of their first race sharing a automobile on the Sebring 12 Hours in 2007, “a really, very onerous race to do with two drivers due to how bumpy the circuit is”.

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“We have been very match, we have been very robust, communicated excellent with the staff,” explains Fernandez, who had entered the ALMS for 2007 after a race-winning Grand-Am programme in 2006 alongside Brazilian Mario Haberfeld.

Fernandez and Diaz completed on the outright podium of their first race collectively at Sebring in 2007

Photograph by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

“We had lots of enjoyable exterior the race monitor with sponsors and the commitments we had at the moment with Lowe’s. Our sponsors liked him, he was a really hard-working man inside and outdoors the race monitor, so we had an awesome partnership.

“He was very constant and really dependable, and that was the important thing in this kind of endurance races the place you want consistency and good driving.”

The crushing dominance of the Penske-run works Porsche RS Spyders in 2007 meant its rivals have been often vying for scraps, and Fernandez traded a Lola B06/43 for an Acura ARX-01b for 2008. Designed by Nick Wirth, it gave Fernandez equal tools to Michael Andretti’s staff, De Ferran Motorsports and Highcroft Racing. With Dyson Racing additionally operating a pair of buyer Porsches, the competitors was fierce, and Fernandez has fond reminiscences of automobiles that have been “like Indycars with bodywork” able to mixing it with the LMP1 Audis.

“If none of this monetary disaster occurred, I most likely may have simply continued to drive with Luis for a few years extra, so it was simply unlucky”
Adrian Fernandez

Because the staff proprietor, Fernandez had “complete freedom” in his alternative of a co-driver and was not obligated to associate up with a fellow Mexican. “We had implausible budgets and [Lowes’] believed in me and let me do no matter I needed,” he says.

And Fernandez was by no means given trigger to remorse not deciding on a driver with extra single-seater pedigree than Diaz, who made simply two appearances in CART/Champ Automobile after a race-winning marketing campaign in Toyota Atlantic in 2002. The pair even used the identical seat.

Fernandez believes that Diaz was a sufferer of dangerous timing because the help construction behind the likes of Telmex-backed racers Salvador Duran and Sergio Perez (who Fernandez went on to handle) in Europe wasn’t but in place. He was eager to proceed their collaboration after eight class wins helped them beat Dyson to the 2009 crown, when the De Ferran and Highcroft groups stepped as much as LMP1 whereas Penske and Andretti have been among the many notable withdrawals. However he felt he had no possibility however to shut the staff at season’s finish because the monetary disaster confirmed no signal of abating.

Whereas Fernandez went on to race for the Prodrive-run Aston Martin Racing staff as a coda to his driving profession that completed in 2012, Diaz continued to compete within the ALMS throughout a number of totally different courses, profitable 4 occasions in P2 for Stage 5 Motorsports throughout 2011-12. His final worldwide sportscar race outing got here in 2016, at his house World Endurance Championship spherical, ending fifth in LMP2 with a Greaves-run Gibson 015S.

Fernandez relished mixing it with the faster LMP1 cars alongside Diaz

Fernandez relished mixing it with the quicker LMP1 automobiles alongside Diaz

Photograph by: Anthony Kent / Motorsport Images

“I didn’t need to have a staff simply discovering drivers to carry cash, I believed ‘both I do it accurately or I don’t do it,’” displays Fernandez. “I instructed all my guys that on the finish of the 12 months if we didn’t discover a sponsorship we weren’t going to proceed, as a result of additionally in LMP2 there was only a few automobiles operating.

Extra favorite team-mates:

“It was getting unhappy and troublesome. How are you going to justify promoting that?

“If none of this monetary disaster occurred, I most likely may have simply continued to drive with Luis for a few years extra, so it was simply unlucky. However he was so stable as a team-mate and an awesome character, he was simply extraordinarily gratifying.”

Fernandez (right) says he would have happily continued racing alongside Diaz (left) without the economic downturn

Fernandez (proper) says he would have fortunately continued racing alongside Diaz (left) with out the financial downturn

Photograph by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

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