Néstor Girolami got his first go-kart aged three but cried when the engine was fired up. Aged four, in 1994, he was leading a race when he stopped to take a pee on the final lap. But fast-forward to 2020, and the man they call ‘Bebu’* will be among the elite pack of FIA World Touring Car racers vying for the WTCR title when the brakes are expected to come off the eagerly anticipated third season in September.
Along the way, the Argentine has raced Formula Renault in Italy and won his country’s headlining Súper TC2000 title two years in succession having switched to touring cars aged 17.
He became the first Argentine driver to win a Stock Car Brasil race on his debut, a feat he achieved in 2015, the year of his point-scoring WTCC debut in Slovakia. He won for Volvo Polestar in the WTCC only to lose his drive for the 2017 season decider in Qatar.
But Girolami bounced back from that rejection − and the loss of a long-term contract − to secure a WTCR drive with the Honda-powered ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team for 2019 following a nothing-to-lose, fact-finding visit to Suzuka the previous October.
He led the standings after three early-season wins and will continue with the German squad in 2020 when he joins forces with friend and compatriot Esteban Guerrieri once again.
In the latest episode of the WTCR Fast Talk podcast series presented by Goodyear, Girolami talks host Martin Haven through his younger than usual start and how he took the Argentine touring car series by storm when he was barely old enough to drive on the road.
He also recalls his World Touring Car debut in Slovakia and the realisation he might just have what it would take to make it. “It was quite different, really tough and I didn’t speak any English words so I had to study every day and learn as fast as I could,” Girolami remembers of his 2015 adventure. “The Honda was carrying 60 kilos and on the long straights of the Slovakia Ring it was not the best condition to debut. But I was in the top 10, I qualified in front of [Gabriele] Tarquini, who was with the official team and this was a very good reference for me.”
Rather than being a reference in 2020, Tarquini will be one of Girolami’s rivals for WTCR title glory during the six-event, 16-round season. “We want to fight for the championship but it will be really, really tight,” said Girolami, who became a father for the first time in January. “Some weekends will be back-to-back so we have to be prepared for everything. This year is revenge for us and we are preparing very hard to win both titles. We now have Tiago [Monteiro] and Attila [Tassi] in the team, four strong drivers together doing a very good job.
“The atmosphere in the team is really good and I am really grateful to work with these guys [from ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport] who give everything in every race. We have a really good crew and I am really grateful to be part of the Honda family and ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.”
Néstor Girolami’s WTCR Fast Talk podcast presented by Goodyear, the WTCR’s official tyre supplier, and hosted by Martin Haven is available in two parts at FIAWTCR.com and other outlets from 12h00 CET today (3 June) with part two from 12h00 CET on 5 June. Click here to listen or follow this link: https://www.fiawtcr.com/wtcr-
*Bebu loosely translates from Spanish to English as ‘Baby’ or, more accurately, ‘the younger one’. His mother started calling him Bebu to differentiate him from his father, Néstor Sr, when it was time for dinner…