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Few racers personify the Hankook 24H BARCELONA more: since 1998, this Catalonia native has taken two outright victories at the event in 1998 and 2008, and scored class wins in 2000, 2011, 2014 and 2018. But there’s more to Francesc Gutiérrez Agüi than his formidable Barcelona record. He’s a former class champion in the Spanish GT Championship, Catalan Touring Cars and national hill climb events, and his company – V-Line Org – has organized the Campeonatos de España every year since 2007. He’s also not going to let a fiery accident in a Volvo 240 Turbo interfere with his racing.
 
 
Name?
“Francesc Gutiérrez.”
 
 
Age? You can lie about that if you want…
“50 years old.”
 
 
Where and when was your first ever car race, and how old were you?
“My first event was in 1989, and it was a hill climb race in northern Spain in Pontevedra with a Renault 5 GT Turbo. So I would have been 20 years old.”
 
 
What is the best moment of your racing career so far?
“I have a lot of best moments. Winning the [Hankook] 24H BARCELONA overall, twice, was very good. My Spanish GT and Hill Climb championships too*. I have a lot of good memories, so I can’t really narrow them down to just one.”
 
*Francesc won the ‘GT Light’-class Spanish GT Championship and Endurance GT in 2012 alongside Luis Villalba in the latter’s eponymously entered Ginetta G50 GT4.
 
 
Which is your favourite circuit and why?
“My favourite is Nürburgring and I think you know why! But the second is the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. I’ve raced there since 1993, I’ve driven on all versions of the track – with the [turn 14/15, RACC] chicane, without the chicane – and I like it very much. It’s a very technical circuit and you need to do a lot of laps to get the most out of it.”
 
 
Describe the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a motor race
“The strangest was only three months ago when my car [ignited] in a hill climb race, and my face got burnt. I’m okay, but it was a horrible experience.
 
“It’s strange because, when you see an accident [coming], your body prepares itself. I remember, two years ago, in Barcelona with the 24H SERIES, I had a very big accident on the main straight when my car lost all its brakes. But when my car burnt, it was without an accident. The car just started leaking fuel, I don’t know why, and it just went…[makes ‘explosion’ gesture with his hands]. My mind was not prepared and it was the most horrible situation.”*
 
*One month after his fiery accident at the 2019 Pujada a la Trona, a still-recovering Francesc secured C1-class victory in the Campeonato de España Resistencia (GT-CER) at Valencia in a PCR Sport Ferrari 458 GT3. Beast mode activated!
 
 
Describe your helmet design to us, and what it signifies…
“My first race with this helmet was at the [Hankook] 24H BARCELONA in 2014. Every design has to include my sponsor, KH-7, but on the back, I had a cool design drawn by my niece, Natalia. She’s a very, very good designer, and that’s my good luck charm!”
 
 
What is your greatest strength?
“I think I can adapt very well to situations. In motorsport, I’ve tasted pretty much everything. In one year, I can compete in hill climbs, rally, on the circuit, on ice, etc, and I can adapt my driving style pretty quickly to each [discipline] and get the most performance out of it”.
 

If Hollywood made a movie about you, who would play you and why?
“Tom Hanks. I’m been a fan of his for a long time, since he made Big, I think, and…what’s the other one with the big dog? My older dog was the same…
 
Turner and Hooch?
 
“Yes! He’s very good. Also, we’re quite similar, because he adapts very well too, with comedy, with drama, with everything. I like him a lot.”
 
 
What would you like to achieve before retiring?
“From 1998 to 2014, I was a professional driver. I still am, but now I now I approach each event looking to enjoy them a lot more, and that is why I’m still running the Spanish GT Championship with a friend of mine. My world is linked to motorsport, be it as a driver and an organizer, and I’m very passionate about my work and I hope to be involved for many more years. If there is one other race left for me to do, I’d love to enter the 24 Hours of Nürburgring very soon."
 
 
Tell us a random fact about yourself that your fans might not know…
[Pause]… Across 30 years in competition, many things happen and so there is always something you should keep private! [Laughs] I’m also the only driver to have competed at every [Hankook] 24H BARCELONA since 1998, so that’s 21 races so far…
 
“…actually, what is the record for endurance races? This is my favourite race and I love competing in it. If I can beat a record too…why not?!”
 
*We double-checked, Francesc, and you still have a way to go to beat the record for most starts at a 24-hour motor race. Henri Pescarolo for example entered Le Mans as a driver 33 times between 1966 and 1999.
 
 
Finally, what do you enjoy most about competing in the 24H SERIES?
“I love racing, and I enjoy these events because I can drive a lot. I want to be inside the car. I want drive a lot of the time. It’s one of the reasons why I did the race in 2014 and 2015 with only one other driver [with 13-time Women's Trial World Champion Laia Sanz on both occasions]. It’s very tiring, but it’s an amazing experience.”

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