STATS (through 6 of 12 rounds): 9th in GRC Lites points (253), best finish 5th, 1 heat win
POSITIVES: Racing in GRC Lites for the fourth consecutive year, Fernandez was responsible for getting both Burt Jenner and Gustavo Yacaman up to speed in their first race experiences in a rallycross car. But the three-time Lites Fan Favorite Driver isn’t just out there making laps: in fact, he’s coming off of some of his best results of the year in the Ottawa doubleheader, where he made his first top five finish and won his first heat of the year.
“The thing about the double headers is the schedule—it gets very limited,” he explained. “If you can have a clean car, with as little damage as possible so you can have the car ready to run, that’s the biggest thing. It’s about avoiding bad situations so you don’t end up behind the 8-ball when it comes down to it. The key is to be patient and be decisive on when you should start executing the moves.”
NEGATIVES: The biggest downside of 2017 for Fernandez: the fact that he’s not yet behind the wheel of a Supercar. After putting in three solid years of work in a Lites car, earning a number of podiums and heat victories, it’s unfortunate from a fan perspective not to see him battling Mitchell deJong, Oliver Eriksson, and Cabot Bigham in one of the strongest Supercar rookie classes the series has ever seen. (At least for now—one can certainly hope for a mid-season promotion!)
On track, though, the most disappointing result had to come in Louisville, when Fernandez missed the main event. Contact in the semifinals relegated him to the last chance qualifier, and repairs weren’t finished in time to get him back to the line. The good news? Yacaman, his teammate for the weekend, carried the torch for the team by finishing third.
OUTLOOK: Fernandez is biding time until he finally makes the jump into a Supercar, something that longtime fans of the Colombian driver would love to see. Until then, he’s been his usual reliable self in the GRC Lites mix. Still, his time at the highest level is coming, and coming fast. We shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to see him in one of the faster cars.