It’s a well-known fact that, in Spain, bike racing tends to rule at the top of the motorsport pyramid. While motorcycling seems like a constant upwards curve, car racing ebbs and flows. But that’s not to say that enthusiasm lacks in its four-wheel alternative.
The exploits of Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz in Formula 1 and the waves Alex Palou is making stateside in IndyCar tell you everything you need to know about Spanish success on four wheels.
Current Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe driver – and Super Trofeo Young Driver – Guillem Pujeu Beya is in the early stages of his racing career and is one of several Spanish drivers to have dipped his toes in both the bike and car worlds growing up.
“When I was a child, I was actually starting off in motocross,” begins Pujeu Beya. “That was when I was around 10 years-old and a year later, my father bought me a go kart because he thought that motocross was too dangerous for me.
“He had been an F1 fan his whole life and a motorsport fan in general, so he thought karting would be a lot safer for me, so he made me try karting and this is how everything started properly.”
And while a Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracán and a dirt bike seem like total opposites, the 22-year-old still applies the lessons learnt on two wheels to help him get the most out of his abilities in cars.
“Maybe there are some similarities or some useful lessons you can learn in motocross that you can also use in GT cars,” reckons Pujeu Beya. “Knowing and understanding available grip levels for a start is really important on the bikes because you are sliding a lot.
But what I find more similar between the two is the physical effort and preparation that you need to excel in these two disciplines. Both are high demand and everything I learnt in motocross helped me in cars.
When I arrived in karting and Formula 4, I did not come from absolutely zero; I knew how to work physically, how to train every day and what I needed to do to be the best.”
Born in Barcelona in 2002, Pujeu Beya was too young to experience the boom of Fernando Alonso’s two Formula 1 world titles in 2005 and 2006 but by the time he moved up through the four-wheel ranks, Spain’s most successful F1 driver was again fighting for the world championship.
After cutting his teeth in local karting championships, Pujeu Beya made the move up into car racing, gaining experience in the competitive Spanish Formula 4 category, a championship in which he eventually finished as runner-up in 2018.
But as is often the case with budding single seater drivers climbing the ladder, increasingly tight budgets ultimately took the Spaniard down an alternative path in his racing career.
“We came through Formula 4 NEZ (Northern European Zone), finished second in the Spanish Formula 4, and the plan was to try and move into Formula 3 but for me, it was quite difficult financially,” Pujeu Beya explains.
“The road to Formula 1 is not for everyone, so I decided to turn my attentions to GT racing in 2019, starting with GT Open Cup and then after that I decided to look at Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe which I think is a really good championship in which to grow.”
It may not be an uncommon route towards the world of GTs, after all many single seater drivers have found opportunities in GT and Sportscar racing, but Pujeu Beya’s motocross origins mean he is something of an outlier in the one-make series.
A key constant in Pujeu Beya’s three-year Super Trofeo Europe experience to date has been Oregon Team, run by Giorgio Testa and Jerry Canavisio, but this season he has taken on a different role alongside teenage team-mate, Pedro Ebrahim.
“I am kind of a mentor now to Pedro,” says Pujeu Beya. “He is very young and has not so much experience in the series, but he has been very fast and is improving race by race.
And it’s good for me also, when you see drivers who are that fast – I think he just turned 18 years-old – because it gives you a lot of motivation to improve as well.
We are a team so there is not extra pressure for me to be quicker than him or him to be quicker than me. Because we race together, if I am quicker than him or the other way, it is good for the team because the overall result is the most important.
Oregon Team really is like a family, everyone who has been with the team says the same, but it’s true. Jerry is such a nice guy, he knows how to have fun off the track but he is also super professional at the track and I have learnt so much with the team in the last three years.”
That relationship and balance within the #44 Oregon Team Lamborghini Huracán is certainly starting to show its true potential. The pair naturally took some time to build up to speed but enjoyed their best showing of the season last time out at the Nürburgring, taking a pair of strong top 10 finishes across the two races.
It all points towards further optimism for Pujeu Beya’s home race – albeit not at Barcelona like last year, but rather Valencia when the season resumes from the summer break.
“It’s a track that I know really well, I have raced there in Formula 4 and done some test days, so I like it and I am looking forward to racing in Spain again this year,” Pujeu Beya says.
"Of course, being at home means being in Barcelona; we’re not in Barcelona but I will still have some friends and my family coming to see me race in Valencia, so there is a bit of pressure but for sure it will be nice to have them there and to give me some motivation to get a good result.”