By Juan Cruz Mathus
Alberto Álvarez Nicholson won his tenth title nationally as co-driver. In the following interview he tells us his impressions about this significant sporting achievement.
–Obtaining your tenth title as a navigator in the COPEC RallyMobil championship came along with Jorge Martínez in suddenly unexpected circumstances after what happened in La Unión-Río Bueno. Despite that, we imagine that for you this achievement has no less value than others.
-While the news that we had already consecrated arrived at a complicated moment for Chile as a country, not precisely cheerful, I also do not deny that the value of this new crown is high because of the level that the category has been acquiring, for the cars that we are running, the high degree of competitiveness evidenced by all, for having included a world cup in the calendar for the first time and for how this tournament was taking place in terms of the interest of the Škoda Conveyor Belt Technology team so that from 2019 we joined their ranks .
–Ten is not only a round number, but it is very high when we think that they correspond to professionally won championships. How did you live it compared to the first or any other of this decade reached?
-It is undoubtedly special. The quality of co-pilots with whom we measure today is very high, so having added that amount is not common, but it leaves me well standing in front of other colleagues whom I admire. The first was at 2005 when we were young and still had little experience. This one, on the other hand, finds us in a different stage of our lives, more mature, with more road traveled: Jorge with a family formed; I having strengthened my other profession as a journalist. We will never forget that scepter on a Mitsubishi Lancer, but it is also true that I now capitalize better on how much Walter Suriani started teaching me when I started competing with him in Argentina, his advice both above and below the car. The current success goes hand in hand with all that and linked to a model as well valued worldwide as is the Fabia R5.
-What did 2019 stand out for this season (in the absence of a competition), which suddenly did not have others in which you were also national champion?
- It seems to me that this season will be for history for various reasons. There are 15 machines of the senior class. It was the first time that Chile had a world rally. The championship reached record levels of broadcasting in the media in general and increased its television exposure, including live broadcasts. The parties involved in the rally in other regions of the world observe what happens in RallyMobil date after date. As a category, we are indisputably in the international candlestick, as evidenced by the quality of vehicles and professionals around us. We had the pressure of being in an excellent structure and in a car that many assumed was the one that had to be beaten, so - personally - to have been left in front of shaft names like Rubén García, Marc Martí, Santiago García and so many others , can only be considered an honor.
-What were the aspects that you would highlight among those that led Jorge Martínez, you, Fabia and the CBTech team to be the net dominators since the middle of the sports year?
-Arrancaría assigning a part of the task to the balance achieved between the impeccable ordering of the team, Škoda for its very high reliability and director Javier Montero, who correctly set the guidelines and gave us peace of mind and support so that we will dedicate ourselves to exploit the optimal performance of Fabia and enjoy it. I would also add the good sporting, physical and emotional moment of my pilot and the experience that we have been collecting together and of course a factor of luck for not having suffered technical problems at all. We arrived at the first competition in Los Angeles with few previous rehearsals and without knowing much about the reactions of a new unit for us, beyond that we were able to get on the podium. In Concepcion, a stone broke a hose. For the rest, everything went as expected and that made a difference.
-How do you analyze both the reality of the RallyMobil tournament in its twentieth year of life and this flaming transit of Chile within the world calendar the test in the Biobío region last May?
-The reality of RallyMobil is in sight. The South American referents of this sport look at us. The 20 years of history are already felt, the support of a strong and loyal company like COPEC, a producer that knows well what it has to do to bet and invest in the championship and that with much determination has brought Chilean soil to a proof valid by the world contest. Perhaps we are at the best moment, beyond the fact that we are faced with important challenges for the instances that the country is going through. I add that I am very optimistic about the regional arrival of the Junior class, because that will open new frontiers, we will meet young talents who will strive to reach the prize of being champion and that it will be a hotbed of enormous importance. There are always details to improve, but it would be great to stay at this level. The road books are more accurate now than ten years ago, there is talk about the possibility of running sometime in Peru or Argentina, so times are coming as productive or more than we have retraced so far.
-After so many years, is it positive or monotonous to be so long - even winning - with the same driver?
- We continue learning rally to rally, without believing ourselves the best ones and proposing us new goals. It is clear that with codes and respect in our coexistence it is possible to preserve a good performance above the car after so many years. Sometimes we feel like two children who do not stop enjoying doing this that we like so much and celebrating as at the beginning each section won. We know each other so much that we know when one is right or wrong and we can support each other based on that.
-What do you enjoy most of your work as a co-pilot?
-I enjoy knowing that every day the importance of the navigator is valued more, to check that I come in time while I read the notes, when we are the fastest in a special, change a wheel because now there is a cricket so well done to lift the car or a pneumatic gun for nuts that is almost a pleasure to get to work. These are things that maybe I didn't enjoy before. I'm glad when I can take a few seconds to see how Martínez drives and be aware that he trusts me fully for details such as having his helmet, gloves or a bottle of mineral water ready before starting a partial or being the fuse for him when he is nervous about something and receives a word of encouragement from me.
–Being that in your daily life you also enter the field of journalism specialized in motor sport, how did the path that led you to exercise these two roles arise in your life?
- Between my childhood and my adolescence I thought more than anything about being with a ball all the time. That was until I met Santiago De Rioja. His father, Juan Carlos, was a navigator of a Cordoba pilot based in Argentine Patagonia, Osvaldo Lovagnini. I went to see a Tour of the Apple and stayed on forever. Immediately, I said that what I wanted to do in the future would have to do with motor racing. I also liked sports journalism and because of my connection to a colleague who was already a leader in the area where I lived, Carlos Graziosi, at the age of 14 I was already recounting careers on LU5 Radio Neuquén. While traveling to the Argentine Championship, I mixed the tasks related to social communication, with my interest in observing the road maps and the tasks of the co-pilots. I asked, learned and dreamed of competing actively. They were trails that furrowed together. It has the advantage that, being on a competition vehicle, it gives us valuable tools to tell in a special and objective way what happens.
-How would you define, from a technical level, the R5 cars that recently landed in the country, but how successful they are across the planet?
-I like to say that R5 is like a “mini-World Rally Car”. They do everything well because they are fully developed by the factories, which today, of those who bet on this concept, are several. An R5 is like a thoroughbred. The chassis is extraordinary, it brakes very well, its sequential gearbox is formidable, as well as its safety measures. Its technology allows us to enjoy on board and the public appreciate its passage along the side of the route. It is a great regulatory success because they are the best that many pilots around the world can access in relation to cost / benefit.
-How is a day in your daily life in terms of schedules, tasks and routines, either when you are in the race somewhere like when you are in Santiago out of a rally?
-When we do not go to the races, during the week I divide my days between the journalistic and executive production of my motor racing programs (CDO Motor and Km. 1). We leave them ready on Tuesdays. I like to do some gymnastics, especially cycling. When we all can, we usually go pedaling with Martínez and Montero. As I love football, I consume many television programs on that subject, especially at night. Sometimes I get excited about some series, but matches is what I see most. I talk a lot about football with my teammates. What is not negotiable is the mate with biscuits after mid-afternoon; much better if I do looking at the mountain range. Music attracts me, particularly Argentine folklore, a genre that saw me record five albums with friends. In the middle of the rally, the days are more methodical. I wake up very early. I pass the road map, I concentrate, we look with Jorge onboard cameras to draw some conclusion. It is to this activity that I should thank the possibility of discovering beautiful places, meeting María Ignacia, the woman who crossed in a special way in my life, that allowed Suriani to have recommended me with Jorge after teaching me Essential issues of this discipline and appreciate that my family and friends are always willing to cope with those days in which we are away from home.