2016 Mid-season review: Alejandro Fernandez
POSITIVES: As the Lites field gets deeper and deeper every season, there remains a single constant: Fernandez making it to main events and challenging for solid finishes. The Colombian driver, who entered 2016 as the top point-scorer in class history, showed he can make good things happen regardless of the contact-heavy nature of rallycross with a last chance qualifier victory at Marine Corps Air Station New River.
The LCQs, in fact, have been where Fernandez has truly shown his mettle under adversity this year. He’s had to line up in five of them, making his way through four. It’s part of why he remains one of only six drivers to make it to at least five main events in 2016.
NEGATIVES: 2016 just hasn’t been the breakout year that Fernandez has been hoping for. The good news is that he’s only missed one final, the first of the year in Phoenix; the bad news is he hasn’t made it back to the podium yet this year, after a disqualification in the second Phoenix final due to contact with Miki Weckstrom in the final corner dropped him from third place.
“The field and the level of competition has gotten a lot better, and that’s really cool to see as a driver as one of the first GRC Lites here in the states,” Fernandez said in Daytona. “As a driver, I just need to find that right amount of aggressiveness—it’s about putting myself in the right position. It can all be won and lost in turn one. If you’re too passive in turn one you’re just giving too much of a lead, but if you’re too aggressive than you can also knock yourself out.”
OUTLOOK: A run for the championship will be difficult at this point, given the breakaway gap that the top four has on the field right now. It’ll require a lot of things to go right for Fernandez to equal or better his fourth place rank in last year’s standings—but stranger things have happened. He’s still one of the top threats for a podium or even a breakthrough victory every weekend.