As the Carrera Panamericana reached the end of a terrific week on the roads through Mexico, we caught up with Motul partner and Mexican racing driver Fercho Urquiza after the final stage of this illustrious event. Fercho was piloting a heavily modified Porsche 914 and, as happy as he was after putting the car on the podium, he shared with us the camaraderie and sense of fair play that makes the Carrera Panamericana not just one of the world’s most legendary races, but one of the most unique.
FERCHO URQUIZA: “WINNING THE CARRERA PANAMERICANA IS A DREAM COME TRUE”
Fercho, can you describe what it’s like to drive across Mexico in the Carrera Panamericana?
For me it’s a dream come true because the Carrera Panamericana is an event I used to go to as a fan with my father when I was a kid. It’s a legendary event and it’s a dream come true to compete in it. For 20 something years I was a fan and this is the first year I am competing as a competitor. I was here in the Sport Classic Tour last year driving a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, and it’s a great experience for new drivers and people who want to get involved but are not prepared to race. It’s an excellent step to get into the racing world but now I’m racing it properly.
What makes this event so unique and special for you?
I think it’s the flavour of it and the combination of being able to drive through my beautiful country, from north to south, east to west, experiencing different scenery and different weather. It’s a bit of everything. You can really get involved with all the people in each city, and each city has a different flavour. It’s a brotherhood between the competitors and everyone wants to help each other and help their rivals to finish.
What does it take to succeed in the Carrera Panamericana?
Of course, the first and main objective is to finish it. It’s our first race and we can’t forget that. The mere achievement of finishing it should be applaudable. I’ve been racing for 11 years now so I just can’t come and have fun. I have competition in my blood. For me, the ideal goal was to win my class and now to have that podium finish at the end is simply amazing!
Can you tell us more about your car and what modifications you made to it for the rally?
It’s a 1972 Porsche 914. Two litres. We built it from scratch. I bought it a week after last year’s Carrera Panamericana. And it’s taken a whole year to rebuild. I documented the build on social media and YouTube. It’s had a new engine, new transmission, brakes, suspension. It’s basically a brand-new car. We started with a brand-new engine, using Motul, and we’ve had zero problems.
How does Motul's products benefit you during the rally?
It is a very beautiful story, my relationship with Motul. It’s really authentic and organic. My friends and I always use Motul in all of our vehicles: our race cars, our dirt bikes and our karts, because we legitimately think it’s the best oil in the world. And it’s amazing that we can partner with these amazing brands that we use and love. The engines are constantly revving really high, and we need the best oil that performs in hot temperatures and makes the engines last. It’s a seven-day race over thousands of kilometres and the car really suffers. You need an oil that outperforms everything that’s out there.
What modifications did you do to the 914 to make it a rally car?
Mostly safety issues. You need a roll cage, bucket seats, five-point harnesses, a complete fire extinguisher system. It’s mainly a safety issue. When that’s finished, you then start to put better suspension, brakes etc on it. It’s a really light car so the main thing is to make it safe. The body is 100% original but underneath it is reinforced and uprated with brakes from Mexican Nascar, so it stops really well. The engine is a flat-four, opened from 1.7 to 2.0 litres. It has around 160hp, so it isn’t too powerful but it’s really light.
This is your second time in this race, if you count the Sport Classic Tour, and many times as a competitor. Why do you keep coming back to the Carrera Panamericana?
It’s in my blood and I can’t get that competitive chip out of my mind. There’s nothing like putting on a racing suit and being really competitive.
Have you any interesting stories from this race?
I would like to tell everyone that the brotherhood of this race is unique. The Carrera Panamericana is the complete opposite of all other races. In my category, one of the competitors was missing a box of oil, and I gave it to him (Motul, of course [laughs]). Another competitor was missing a piece of the differential and I told him I had a spare in the shop. Everyone wants their rivals to finish and to finish well. That’s what keeps me in the Carrera Panamericana.
Is there anything out of the ordinary about this race you’d like to share?
There are always plenty of animals, which is disconcerting. But another is today, when the helicopter was flying only a few metres on top of the cars. That is an amazing feeling. You don’t want to screw up because that would be on video [laughs].