Pepe Oriola is a Spanish driver who currently competes in TCR Asia as Hyundai Customer Racing's driver. Earlier in a career, he was a regular driver in world's premier touring car championships since 2011.
When he made a debut in the World Touring Car Championship in 2011, he was the youngest ever WTCC driver, aged only 16.
Starting with car racing at the age of 15
Born in July 1994 in Barcelona, Josep 'Pepe' Oriola Vila started his racing career in karting competitions in 2004, then switched to car racing at the end of 2009, at the age of 15, in the final round of the Seat Leon Supercopa. Driving for Monlau Competicion, the youngster finished on the podium, announcing a great career in touring car racing.
In 2010, Oriola raced full seasons both in the Spanish Supercopa and Seat Leon Eurocup, still driving for Monlau Competicion. He was a race winner three times in the Eurocup, finishing fourth in the points. In the Supercopa, he finished fifth.
The youngest ever driver in the World Touring Car Championship
In 2011, Pepe made a step up into the World Touring Car Championship, becoming the full-time driver of Sunred Engineering's #74 Seat Leon TDI. When making a WTCC debut in the season-opening round at Curitiba, Brazil, he became the youngest ever driver in the championship, aged 16 years, 8 months and 11 days.
After three rounds in diesel-powered Leon, Pepe switched to Leon 1.6T from the fourth round. He was in the overall point five times during the season, finishing 18th in the overall points and 8th among the drivers of independent teams.
Maiden WTCC victory in 2013 in Morocco
In 2012, Oriola stayed with Sunred, driving the #74 Seat Leon WTCC under the Tuenti Racing Team banner. He recorded five wins in Yokohama Trophy category, finishing second among independent drivers at the end of the season, behind Norbert Michelisz. In the overall standings, he was eighth with two podiums,
In 2013, Pepe scored his maiden WTCC victory in the second race of the Moroccan round at the Marrakech Street Circuit, becoming the youngest WTCC winner ever. In the mid-season, the team switched to Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T and Pepe scored three more overall podiums until the end of the season, finishing ninth in the points.
Out of racing in 2014, TCR vice-champion in 2015
Pepe was out of racing in 2014, serving as a driver coach for Campos Racing. He appeared in the last WTCC round at Macau Guia Circuit with Campos Racing's Chevrolet Cruze but didn't start the race.
In 2015, Oriola joined Team Craft Bamboo Lukoil in the inaugural season of the TCR International Series, driving the #74 Seat Leon Cup Racer. He was among the front-runners through the season, scoring twelve podiums, including victories at Valencia and Buriram. In the end, he finished second in the points, behind Stefano Comini.
Two more TCR seasons with Craft Bamboo Lukoil
Pepe stayed with the same team in the 2016 TCR International season, opening the year with two victories at Bahrain. Later in the season, he added two more wins (Oschersleben, Buriram) in the #74 Seat Leon TCR but finished lower in the standings than the year before, in the fourth place.
Oriola was again fourth in the final standings in 2016, driving again the #74 Seat Leon TCR. He was a race winner two times, at Rustavi and Dubai.
Rejoining Campos Racing for the inaugural WTCR season
In 2018, WTCC and TCR International Series merged into the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup and Pepe became a part of the new championship. He joined Campos Racing to drive the #74 Cupra Leon TCR, with John Filippi as his teammate in the #27 car.
Pepe scored first WTCR podium in the season-opening round at Morocco and then few more podiums at Nurburgring and Vila Real street circuit before he won a race at Slovakia Ring. It remained his only WTCR win and he finished sixth in the championship points.
In 2019, he became Hyundai Customer Racing's driver, competing with Hyundai i30 N TCR in the TCR Asia International Series.
Photos: Pepe Oriola,