Two-time Dakar Champion Joan 'Nani' Roma teams up with Overdrive Racing

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VILLERS-LE-BOUILLET (BELGIUM): Spanish cross-country rallying legend Joan ‘Nani’ Roma has joined Overdrive Racing and will drive a Toyota Hilux at next month’s Baja Spain. The Teruel-based will mark the start of a programme of events for Roma with the Belgian car preparations company. 

Roma, winner of the gruelling Dakar Rally on a motorcycle in 2004 and with a car in 2014, is relishing the challenge of switching to the powerful V8-engined Toyota that has taken the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies by storm this season and completed a hat-trick of outright victories at last weekend’s Italian Baja in the hands of Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah.

“Everyone at Overdrive Racing is delighted to have Nani on board to work with us at Baja Spain,” said Overdrive Racing’s CEO Jean-Marc Fortin. “He is a very experienced driver and will test with the team in Spain three days before the event and offer the kind of valuable feedback that we need to get the set-up just right for someone who has won this event so many times and knows it so well.”

Roma said: “It’s a pleasure to finalise my contract with Overdrive Racing to drive the Toyota. For me, it is a new and passionate challenge in my career and a new opportunity to develop my racing in a new and exciting project. I’m motivated like a kid to work straight away and carry out some testing to finalise our set-up before our next race together at Baja Spain in a few weeks. 

“The last five years of my career have been attached to another brand, with whom I conquered all the steps of the podium on the Dakar. It has been an exciting five years with moments of glory and also suffering. I value what I have achieved in these years, but now I want to look forward to this opportunity to work with Overdrive and evolve the car and fight for Toyota’s first victory at the Dakar. I have to say that the change gives me a lot of enthusiasm.”

Roma was born in 1972 and hails from Folqueroles, near Barcelona. He began racing on two wheels at an early age and sprung to prominence in the Spanish Junior Cross-Country Rally Championship, finishing second in the 125cc category in 1991 and fifth the following season.

Joan then switched his focus to events like the prestigious International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) and won a gold medal in 1994 and a bronze in 1995, whilst also winning the European Seniors’ Cross-Country Championship.

He first participated in the Dakar Rally in 1996 on a KTM and has been an ever present since then, the highlights of his two-wheel career being the stunning win with the Austrian manufacturer in 2004 and three stage wins with BMW in 2001.

Roma switched to racing on four wheels at the Qatar Baja in 2004 and went on to finish sixth at the Dakar the following year, before claiming a podium finish in Senegal in 2006. When the event moved to South America in 2009, Roma claimed a first, a second and a fourth-placed finish in 2014, 2012 and 2013 and was classified sixth earlier this season. 

A contract has now been signed with Overdrive Racing and Roma will begin his preparations for the forthcoming Baja Spain, an event he won on five occasions on four wheels in 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and on a motorcycle four times (1995, 1997, 1999 and 2002).