Cristiana Oprea: A look back on 2023

An ever constant figure in our #Walero athlete community, with an infectious smile that brings joy to everyone around her, Cristiana Oprea has been an inspiration for many young female racers looking to get involved in the world of motorsport. 2023 has seen Cristiana embark on yet another dual campaign across the European rally scene in both the Opel Electric Rally Cup and European Rally Championship and it has certainly been a memorable one!

An avid fan of rallying since her very first steps into the sport as a co-driver for local hillclimb events in Romania, Cristiana is no stranger to the testing nature of a rally stage. Cristiana has been a shining light for female representation in the sport since her debut in the Romanian National Championship in 2017. 

Since then, she has gone on to achieve some impressive accolades from taking a second place finish in the Dacia Cup at Rally Arges, becoming the first female driver to set foot on the podium in the thirteen year history of the series. This was followed up by an even greater achievement with Cristiana and Diana Hațegan once more writing another page in the record books by becoming the first all Romanian female crew to represent their home country at FIA ERC, Rally di Roma Capitale.

“I don’t quite know where to start with 2023,” she recalls. “It has been a season full of ups and downs as is the case with motorsport, but I wouldn’t change that for the world. We have some great memories from this year and it has definitely been a case of continuing to learn and gather experience as we look to be back stronger in 2024.”

“We have taken this season as an opportunity to really develop our skills as a driver pairing, myself and Alexia have a great relationship both on and off the track and she has come a long way since we started working together in 2022. Our goal together is still to compete in the European Rally Championship full time and that has always been something that I have wanted to achieve since 2019.”

2023 has seen Cristiana traversing across the European continent to compete on two fronts across two very competitive and close-knit championships, taking her from the snowy peaks of Rally du Chablais, Aigle in Switzerland to the bustling streets of Rome for Rally di Roma Capitale. Cristiana and her co-driver, Alexia, have certainly had plenty to take in and experience at these events but it has always been the support of the crowd that has stood out the most!

“It has been amazing to see so many enthusiastic fans trackside this year and it has really served to strengthen my love for the sport. The European championship is at such a high level not only from a competition standpoint but also from a crowd and engagement perspective. There are some really passionate fans out there who love to be involved and support not only myself, but all the drivers who are competing in these events. It adds a sense of pride and accomplishment to what I do and it definitely has helped to motivate me this year.”

“For my wider mission in motorsport with female representation in the sport, it has been great to meet my fellow female competitors at these ERC events. We have been able to share our experiences from the season at each event, and really drive forward conversations around inspiring the next generation of girls to get involved with rallying!”

“I have also been delighted to welcome some new partners to my journey this year, all who were extremely interested in my story. Welcoming these new partners onboard has also made me realise how the visibility for my racing journey is growing each year and I can look back on this year with more passion and confidence than ever before.”

Alongside the support of the crowd, competing in ERC events has seen Cristiana take on rally stages which she had never previously tackled and there is one moment in particular that stands out to her as a catalyst for the sport she loves.

“For me, the stand out moment from 2023 will always be that opening stage of Rally di Roma Capitale! To be racing through those iconic streets past famous landmarks such as the Coliseum will always stand out to me. The fact it was also at night time made it extra special as there was a very different atmosphere compared to a normal rally stage, it felt very prestigious and will be an experience I will cherish for the rest of my career.”

“We then followed the unfortunate retirement at Rally di Roma Capitale with the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, and we headed into that round fully determined to build as much confidence in the new car as possible and also enjoy every moment, as myself and Alexia had valuable experiences from Czech stages which we have competed on in the past. This rally was a very special event for the pair of us as we managed to secure our very first points finish in the ERC since 2019! It was only my second event in the Rally4 car, so to claim those points with the lack of seat time we had experienced over the course of the season was a brilliant feeling.”

For 2024, Cristiana is working hard to embark on a full season campaign in the ERC with Alexia by her side once again. After the valuable learning experiences taken from her first season of competition in 2023, she is more determined than ever to make 2024 the best one yet.

“Ever since I started my career in rallying the goal has always been to compete at ERC sanctioned events as it offers not only great visibility for my mission in motorsport but also a level of competition that builds up my own skills and confidence as a driver. Throughout the 2023 season, we faced plenty of challenges such as incidents and mistakes, but with the help of the team, we overcame these obstacles and turned it into a very positive experience overall.”

“As I mentioned before, 2023 was a year for me to build up my confidence and skills in the car as it was one I had never driven before. I would say that we definitely accomplished these goals and I can head into 2024 with a refreshed mindset and a new found confidence that we can embark on our most successful season in the ERC to date!”

Here at Walero, we are delighted to have Cristiana as a part of our valued athlete community, her infectious enthusiasm and passion for not only rallying, but also for female inclusion in motorsport aligns with our own brand ethos and we cannot wait to see what she achieves alongside Alexia and the team in 2024.

You can follow Cristiana and her rallying journey across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! And also on her TikTok, LinkedIn and Whatsapp community group respectively