Barcelona-born Álex Riberas is contemporary of fellow Spanish racing drivers Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniel Juncadella, Miguel Molina, and Roberto Mehri.
A relatively late starter in karting, Álex graduated to open-wheel racing and was an immediate frontrunner in Formula Renault competing against the likes of future Formula 1 graduates Stoffel Vandoorne, Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr.
A lack of financial support stalled his movement up the ladder in open-wheelers, so instead he made the move to GT racing, cutting his teeth racing Porsches across Europe and, more recently, the United States.
The USA was quick to adopt Álex after his early successes, and he has since switched to Ferrari. Finishing runner-up in the 2016-17 Asian Le Mans Series propelled him into an Academy drive at Maranello and he is now a championship contender in the United States’ premier GT championship, the Pirelli World Challenge.
|WHO IS ÁLEX RIBERAS?|
|Full Name||Álex Riberas Bou|
|Born||27 January 1994, Barcelona (ESP)|
|2010||Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, Epsilon Euskadi, 16 races, 2 podiums, 8th overall
Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Epsilon Euskadi, 3 races, 1 pole, 1 podium, 21st overall
|2011||Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, EPIC Racing, 14 races, 1 win, 3 podiums, 6th overall
Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, EPIC Racing, 4 races, 2 wins, 2 podiums, 15th overall
|2012||European F3 Open, RACE Dallara Toyota F312, 2 races, 2 podiums, 2 fastest laps
Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, Josef Kaufmann Racing, 14 races, 2 fastest laps, 9th overall
Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Josef Kaufmann Racing, 7 races, 1 win, 1 pole, 15th overall
|2013||German Porsche Carrera Cup, Attempto Motorvision, 15 races, 1 podium, 11th overall|
|2014||Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, Attempto Racing 911 GT3, 8 races, 12th overall
Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, Attempto Racing 911 GT3, 17 races, 2 podiums, 9th overall
United Sports Car Championship, AJR Porsche 911 GTA, 3 races, 1 podium
|2015||Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, Lechner 911 GT3 Cup, 10 races, 1 win, 3 podiums, 5th overall
Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, Lechner 911 GT3 Cup, 17 races, 3 podiums, 5th overall
United Sports Car Championship, AJR Porsche 911 GTA, 3 races, 1 win, 24th overall
|2016||United SportsCar Championship, AJR Porsche 991 GT3, 11 races, 1 win, 2 podiums, 5th overall|
|2016-17||Asian Le Mans Series, DH Racing Ferrari 488 GT3, 4 races, 1 win, 2 podiums, 2nd overall
|2017||Pirelli World Challenge, R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3, 3 races, 1 podium, 3rd overall*
* Denotes seasons in progress
You started karting at the age of twelve, which is a relatively late age compared to many racing drivers. Did that create additional barriers to challenges when you were first racing against teenagers who had more experience behind the wheel than you?
It made my life more difficult to start so late on go-karts. But my desire to improve myself was also bigger than the rest. My father always grew me up teaching me that commitment is essential to achieve your goals. I was very ambitious from the beginning, and finally it paid off.
What was the support of your family during the formative years of your racing career?
The support was unlimited. My parents did everything they could to allow me to grow myself as a driver but always keeping an eye on the school. They were very demanding, especially my father. But in the beginning he was the only economical support I had so without him all of this wouldn’t have happened.
Who were your first motorsport heroes? What was significant about their achievements or character that you admired?
Ayrton Senna, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso – all of them for their determination to succeed.
At around the time you started karting, Fernando Alonso was winning World Championships in Formula 1. How has his success rebuilt the culture of motorsport in Spain, particularly given its fans were predominantly passionate about motorcycle racing in the 1990s when you were born?
It was fantastic. We called it the Alonso BOOM. Everybody wanted to be a driver so the karting tracks were full. This increased the level of the field and eventually it created an outstanding generation of talented drivers like Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniel Juncadella, Miguel Molina, Roberto Mehri… just to name a few.
You moved into open-wheel racing in your teenage years and enjoyed wins and podiums while competing against the likes of future F1 racers Stoffel Vandoorne, Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. What did the successes mean to you?
I am grateful for the opportunity to have raced with these guys in the past. I didn’t have the support to continue with them but I learnt a lot racing and sharing those years together. It made me a better driver.
What prompted your shift to closed-cockpit racing, particularly GT and endurance-style racing?
I wanted to be a professional race car driver and the only way to achieve this was through GT racing. Looking back, I think it was a great decision.
Switching from open-wheel cars to much heavier GT or LMP-category cars would – outwardly – appear to be a significant transition. What significant changes did you make to your driving style to adapt to this change?
Since the weight transfer is much bigger you have to adapt your driving style to that particular behavior. It’s nothing special but it takes time.
You’ve now gained experience and enjoyed success in several championships outside Europe. How does racing in Asia or the United States compare with racing back home, and what key lessons have helped you in your later career?
Racing in the United States was the ultimate dream. That country has given me almost everything I have and I will always be thankful. I love to go there. The teams, the people, the fans, the cities… I always feel free whenever I’m in the USA. And the opportunities that led to where I am now happened because of the american people who believed in me. That’s why I like to call it The Dream Factory. The best lesson I learnt was probably from Alex Job saying “In a 24-hour race there is no excuse for a contact. You need to have eyes everywhere. You need to protect your car like it was your life”.
You’re racing in a host of categories this year. What targets are you setting for yourself?
If you drive for Ferrari the only possible target is to win.
You take a very active approach to social media engagement, particularly via your Twitter and your Instagram feeds. How do you approach engaging with your fans?
I love it. It’s so much fun and hopefully I’ll be able to do even more stuff in the future.
You’ve raced on an incredible array of circuits around the world. What is your most favourite circuit at which you have raced and why?
Circuit of the Americas in Austin is my favourite. Not because of the layout itself but because of the history. My 2015 season was closed in that paddock; one year later I won there my first Porsche Supercup race, closing my 2016 season. I won pole and recorded the fastest lap in front of the WEC field, which led to a Ferrari contract for 2017. I just got to love that place.
Would you be interested in exploring opportunities to race in Australia?
Absolutely! Hopefully I can race at Mount Panorama someday.
What have been the best and worst racing cars you’ve driven?
The best car I’ve raced is the Ferrari 488 GTE. The worst is probably the Cup car. If you’re fast with that, you’re fast with everything!
How can fans and corporate sponsors get behind you and provide further support for your career?
Just by going to my social media pages and just click on the contact button. I’ll be happy to attend to everyone!
Images via Álex Riberas, Motorsport.com and Passion Porsche