Season review: Rodrigo Baptista

Nobody truly reflected ‘zero to hero’ better than Romeo Ferraris-M1RA’s Rodrigo Baptista during the 2021 PURE ETCR season.

In spite of a class podium at the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours, the fact that the Brazilian had spent most of racing career in his homeland and North America meant he arrived at the Vallelunga season-opener as a virtual unknown.

He couldn’t have made a more innocuous start either; incurring a penalty in the year’s very first opening-round Battle at Vallelunga for contact with the CUPRA of Jordi Gené.

Yet just a few weeks later, the 25-year-old celebrated scoring his team’s first series podium finish with third place in Race SP at MotorLand Aragón following an impeccable weekend’s work that included his first Battle win.

While he had no prior knowledge of racing electric cars, his rear-wheel-drive experience proved invaluable as the Romeo Ferraris-M1RA team continually made up for a late start to their test programme with a series of developments over the year.

‘Digo’ and his team-mates benefitted greatly from this. He added another Battle win during the year to arrive at the Pau-Arnos season finale as his team’s only title contender in what became a five-way shoot-out.

While the championship was not to be his, he did finish the season as the best-placed Romeo Ferraris-M1RA driver; a superb achievement from a man who was a relative unknown when his signing was announced in March.

He certainly isn’t any more.