Agustín Canapino, a few hours before the Indianapolis 500: “It’s the first time I’ve gotten into a car knowing that everything isn’t under control”

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The first time the name of Agostino Canapino appeared in the newspaper clarion it was April 23, 2006 and, in parentheses, it read “son of the frame builder Alberto”. He had made his debut a year earlier in the Copa Mégane and there were still three left to make his debut in road tourism – with an historic third place – where he would then cease to be “son of” and become the four-time champion. Seventeen years later, the teenager who learned to race on computer simulators has become the 33-year-old man who will compete in the legendary Indianapolis 500.

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“Even in the little games I didn’t get to 390 km/h”laughs in camper located at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He is there despite the fact that his home is 20 minutes away -since the interview with Clarín takes place during a day without activity-, because he is obsessed with work, because he sleeps seven hours a day, because he wakes up looking at the data on his computer and goes in bed watching partials on the phone. It’s in place Alberto Canapino, who would have turned 60 on May 23, I would have chosen to physically accompany him to Indianapolis. It’s there before the most important race of his life, a dream he hasn’t dreamed.

Seems like a lie that this week coincides with his birthday. Also, my old man would be turning 60, a more than special number for any man. And it represents one of the great motivations that I have too. My dream is to be able to finish on Sunday, get out of the car after seeing the checkered flag, in any position, and I feel that I gave everything I had, that I did the race of my life and dedicated it to my father. This is what I dream about on Sunday,” she shares.

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If last Saturday, during qualifying in which he finished 27th (Stefan Wilson’s subsequent accident took him to 26th place), his partner Josefina Di Palma was there, this Sunday he will be very close to his brother Matías. “My brother’s thing is very special, what’s more, it was just my old man’s birthday, it also seems on purpose -he confesses- Everything is very strong for me. And I try to have fun but not stay too long, because it’s so much I have to do and so hard that I have to stay focused. You have to turn those energies into motivation.”

The first mention of Agustín Canapino in the newspaper Clarín, in 2006 as son of Alberto.

The first mention of Agustín Canapino in the newspaper Clarín, in 2006 as son of Alberto.
The revelation.  Agustín Canapino's third place on his TC debut in 2009.

The revelation. Agustín Canapino’s third place on his TC debut in 2009.

-In addition to your family and your manager Héctor Martínez Sosa, who has been with you since your father died, there will be many Argentines. How do you live it?

-It’s very strong, everything I’m experiencing is very strong but… Two things. First of all I am grateful, because coming here is not easy, we are far from the truth, it is a very long journey. I thank each of you who comes from my heart and I hope to be with all the Argentines who are here. On the other hand, I try not to think about it because it will make me very nervous or drain me of energy. So on the one hand try to have fun with everyone who comes and try to be with everyone but on the other hand take as much time as I can and concentrate on what I have to do because what I have to do is very, very difficult. and it’s my first time doing it.

-Are you surprised by the support and love on social networks every time there is a race?

-Argentines never cease to amaze. This is more than special, because the IndyCar championship is one thing and the 500 Miglia is another, and above all, it is the most important and oldest race in the world. Only three Argentines directed it (Editor’s note: Martín de Álzaga Unzué, Raúl Riganti and Juan Antonio Gaudino), I will be the fourth and only one could finish it in 112 years of history. It’s a lot. Let alone if it will be special, in fact they told me that Fangio tried to make her escape but I don’t know what happened, she didn’t want to…

-He didn’t have a competitive car and was already five times F1 champion, he decided not to race.

-And I take off my hat, as he did well. With all these toppings it’s a great honor for me, moreover with the national team car, with the colors of the world champions it’s a privilege. Although it’s a motivation and I want to put my all into it, I want to see the checkered flag in the best possible place.

-What goes through your head hours after performing them?

I thought one day I would come here to see them, I never thought I would handle them. If it wasn’t for Ricardo (Juncos, the Argentinian owner of the Juncos Hollinger Racing team), I would never have had this opportunity and I will be grateful to him for life. They would never have called me from an IndyCar team if they didn’t even know where Argentina is, basically, what I’ll expect to race the 500 Miglia. This is so much that I never dreamed of. And I thank those who allowed me to be here. We go, for the 500 Miglia, to see the checkered flag and if possible with a good result, much better.

The touch to the wall in the standings: “My heart stopped”

-What is the balance of the leaderboard?

I’m just a little calmer now. I was upset on Saturday because we wanted more and I’m so competitive I forget to enjoy myself and realize where we are. We didn’t just qualify: we qualified on the first day, firm, we never risked being left out or going on Sunday, when the four behind defined a place. Looking at that, looking at the fact that I touched the wall and the car and the bodywork are intact, we can say that it is a more than positive balance because the dream has come true and it is incredible. But on the other hand, that bittersweet taste because we had a car for a better starting position.

– What do you remember “Little kiss” at the wall?

-I’m being honest, above the car I felt I touched the wall, but I didn’t think anything was broken. And yes, the right rear suspension had broken. Actually only one item was bent, not broken. But when I continued and tried to threaten going into turn 2, it all went sideways at 370mph. It wasn’t a good feeling at all. Luckily, I was able to get it out and control it throughout the shift. I won’t lie to you My heart stopped at that moment, we got it for cheap. It’s a lesson Indianapolis taught me. The reality is that I wasn’t the only one to touch the wall: Castroneves touched it and I don’t know how many years he’s been racing and he’s won the 500 Miglia four times, these things happen. Because you reach the maximum limit and the wall awaits you with open arms.

Agustín Canapino, in practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Agustín Canapino, in practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

– Indeed, on Monday there was a spine-tingling confrontation between Stefan Wilson and Katherine Legge.

-Fijate how is this; nothing happens until suddenly everything happens. And the closer you get to the race, the more the risk of something happening increases, because we all start to push a little harder. What happened was a reality check, because there is a driver (Wilson) who has broken a vertebra and will not be able to run the race. It’s a reality check how risky the Indianapolis 500 is. We all know it but when you are in the whirlpool you start to forget about it, until these things happen and remind you that we are in the most extreme race in the world.

-Above that speed. How does it feel to run at 390 km/h?

-You hear, the truth you hear. No matter how much you want to forget about it and focus on your job, which is driving the car as perfectly as possible to go very fast, it’s a lot and you feel it over the car, it gives you a constant feeling of respect that I’ve never felt anything like it. . You always know you can’t go wrong because it’s a hit. It’s the first time I’ve gotten into a car knowing that everything isn’t under control. In the 500 or the Texas oval in an Indy Car, get in the car and hit the track and you know you’re in a really risky place. I won’t be a hypocrite, nor will I give it to myself at all, it seems. You’re not doing something you’ve done all your life and you’re not doing something normal. You are doing the most extreme thing that can exist on four wheels. It’s hard to explain to you how it feels, but how it feels, it feels.

-Even if you’ve never done it before, you’ve adapted to ovals and you like them, right?

I like them, and do you know why I like them? It’s such an extreme level, it’s so risky, it’s so difficult that in the end I like it. Maybe it’s that madness one has that one likes speed and adrenaline. And because I know I’m doing something super risky and super difficult, in the end I like it. You don’t have fun in the car, because you come with the feeling that you’re doing something crazy, but in the end I enjoy it. Also, I’m hooked on the part of the nice work on the oval. At 380 or 390 km/h everything is super sensitive and going down a cent on the oval or gaining a mile is really difficult. So, that extreme risk added to perfection that you have to have to work and how you have to adapt to changes in wind, air, tire temperature… In other words, everything is very sensitive in the oval and this too I am passionate about working in track.

-In February you said that the goal was to qualify, now that you’ve qualified, how do you feel about the previous one?

-On the one hand I’m like I took an elephant off my back, I won’t lie to you, because outside there was only one place to be. And on top of that when we started with Callum (Ilott, his teammate) we were 33 and 34, we were last, and it seemed like everything was going to be very uphill. But we were working and, indeed, we ended up in 20th place, I even finished in 10th place, so thinking about qualifying was very possible, even if you had to do it later. And now I’m a little calmer but very busy trying to improve the car as much as possible to have a good race, because I want to see the checkered flag but feel like I had a good race, not just finish it.

Ricardo Juncos and Agustin Canapino at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Press photo Juncos Hollinger Racing

Ricardo Juncos and Agustin Canapino at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Press photo Juncos Hollinger Racing

-Be competitive…

-I want to compete and move forward. I’m aware of where we are, and that’s important, because we’re competing against monsters and teams that are decades old, with five times the budget and staff. In IndyCar, of the 33 that start, half can win and the other half can fight. We can’t claim to win in any way, but we can have a good level, be competitive and blend in with the other half.

-And you who live there, what do you see in the city?

-The whole city dresses up for the 500 Miglia: from the airport, hotels and supermarkets to the track and streets. For some time now, everything has dressed up in 500 Miglia. And the week before, when everyone starts arriving, it’s bigger. One anecdote I have is that after qualifying, when we finally got classified, all the Americans that were there, the mechanics, the engineers, the audience, and some reporters, said to me, “Welcome to the show, welcome to the show.” They all said the same thing to me, “welcome to the show, welcome to the show.” It’s like it’s even more important to you that we are in the US and here everything is staged like a show and everything is maxed out. In short, nothing is standard, here everything that can be done will be done to maximize the human being and make it a show. It’s 500 miles.

Source: Clarin

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