The thrill of driving at full throttle remains Simón de Santos’ passion.

Rally: The motorway just isn’t enough for Actros driver Simón.

The thrill of driving at full throttle remains his passion.
Photos: Sebastian Vollmert

Rally-mad Basque country.

Simón de los Santos wanted to become a rally driver since he was twelve years old. Really, he is the quiet type – not one for showing emotions. However, when he talks about his hobby, his enthusiasm just pours out: “As soon as I sit in the car, I forget about everything around me. It’s great.” He gets the rest of his stuff out of the cab. “I have taught myself a lot,” Simón tells us. He doesn’t have time for any proper driving training. “Driving a truck is my job. Rally driving will remain a hobby.”

Safety first: team colleague and friend,Ariel helps Simón into the protective clothing.
Concentration before the start – Simón at the wheel of his rally car.

Concentration before the start.

It’s his first season and the Aia Hillclimb which is the next race on the cards is his third ranked race. “Hillclimb” because it goes uphill for 3.78 kilometres. The difference in altitude between start and finish is 300 metres. The recipe for success: pedal to the metal, brake late and whatever you do, don’t shift into the wrong gear. Simón: “I want to gain experience and see how well I can keep up. Nearly all of the drivers have been driving longer than me. It will be difficult.” His car is red with a 16 valve engine and 103 kW.

Rally-mad Basque country.

A difference in altitude of 300 metres.

The main road of the small town looks like a pit lane. Even the small engines make an enormous noise – the vehicles have no exhaust silencer. The road up to Aia has now been blocked for normal traffic. Simón polishes the windscreen so that it doesn’t mist up during the race. An engine revs close by. “There are cars here that cost 90,000 euros. That is a different league.”

Acceleration is better than expected. Simón makes good time. Fans cheer along the route. Many of them have already spent the night here. There are many rally-mad people in the Basque country. The mountains and serpentine bends make competitions attractive.

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