He was born in Mozambique 14 years ago and has lived in Portugal for the last three years. Here, he can surf the waves and dedicate himself to his great love: karting. All this without neglecting his school work! Pedro Perino is a kid worth knowing!
By Ana Roque
LEMON Mag – How long have you been karting?
Pedro Perino [P.P.] – I’ve been competing for three years, but I started much earlier, when I was still living in Mozambique, in my spare time. But there are not many races or competitions there. It was only when I came to Portugal three years ago that I started to take my passion more seriously.
LEMON Mag – How did karting come into your life?
P.P. – When I was four years old, my father bought me a baby kart, one which didn’t go so fast so I could get used to it. He explained to me what the accelerator and the brake were, sent me to the track and saw right away that I was good at it.
LEMON Mag – Does anyone else in your family do this sport?
P.P. – My dad, but he started late, in his 30s. He used to race competitively and became national champion in Mozambique.
LEMON Mag – What do you most love about karting?
P.P. – It’s a really tough sport. It demands a lot from you physically and mentally. I think driving is really different to other sports. You have to fight for every 10th, 100th of a second, fight every lap and to help improve the car. Driving is tough, but that’s also why I love it.
LEMON Mag – Did you decide to start competing yourself?
P.P. – Yes. When I arrived to Portugal, I wanted to race and my father took me to a team in the north, the Cabo do Mundo, to try it out. I tried out their MiniMax [a type of engine and racing category for kids aged 11 to 13 years old], but I wasn’t used to it at the time. It went really fast for me. Then I decided I wanted to race here.
LEMON Mag – Is your father your main source of inspiration?
P.P. – Yeah. Him and Ayrton Senna.
LEMON Mag – Does your family support you in this passion of yours?
P.P. – Yeah, they all support me a lot.
LEMON Mag – Have you had to travel a lot with karting?
P.P. – I’ve never left Europe because the most important competitions are always here. But I’ve been to Italy, Germany and Spain. We’re always racing in those places.
LEMON Mag – Where did you like the most?
P.P. – I loved Germany. When I got there, I didn’t know the track and my team mate was the same guy I had competed against for the championship in Spain. Whoever can drive well in Spain is considered to be a really good driver. In the first trial we did, I was two 10ths of a second behind him. But in the second and third, I was faster than him. After that I was always one of the fastest. I started by being in the top 10, then the top 7, the top 5 and the top 3. During the race itself, we had a bit of luck too. But karting is like that… It can be a cruel sport because you can get involved in accidents that aren’t your own fault. But that’s the track I liked the most.
LEMON Mag – Have you had many accidents?
P.P. – I’ve rolled a kart in Portugal, in a race where I was in second place. Also at the Portugal Open, I was about to win the champion title when my engine broke down. In the world championship I was excluded from competition after three heats.
LEMON Mag – How did you feel at those times?
P.P. – Losing a race is horrible, it hurts a lot. And after a few races without any luck, you start to get really frustrated. But you just have to keep going.
LEMON Mag – Besides karting, do you do any other sports?
P.P. – I’ve tried loads of sports. Football, swimming, judo, basketball, volleyball, skateboarding, surfing and karting. But now I’m focused on just two: karting and surfing.
LEMON Mag – Do you like surfing a lot?
P.P. – I like it a lot, but I don’t do it competitively. I take surfing seriously, but just do it for fun. It’s to relax, to keep fit and to work on my flexibility. It’s a very different sport from karting, which is really stressful, so it’s has turned out to be a good complement.
LEMON Mag – How did surfing come into your life?
P.P. – My father bought me a board when I was six, pushed me onto a wave and I’ve never let go since. In Maputo there were no waves, but every time I had a chance to surf, I didn’t look back, I spent the whole day in the water.
LEMON Mag – What are your favourite beaches to surf?
P.P. – Carcavelos is my beach. When there are waves, I love it there. But I also like Praia Grande and Praia Pequena, which are both in Sintra. I also like to go to Costa da Caparica, but only when there are waves.
LEMON Mag – How do you reconcile the two sports?
P.P. – I do karting competitively, so when I have to train, that is the priority. I usually do it on weekends, but when I have lots of races coming up, I also train during the week. Sometimes I also have to travel to other countries. Surfing is more for when I’m not in competition. I usually do karting on the weekends and leave the surfing for during the week.
LEMON Mag – Is it hard to coordinate all this with school?
P.P. – At my school, the teachers are very supportive. When I have to be away for a few days, as has happened several times, they email me all the material and I keep up. Some teachers don’t do that and, when I arrive and they are teaching a totally new subject, I ask them to give me all the material they gave to the other students and I catch up at home. I got really good grades last year.
LEMON Mag – What are your long-term plans?
P.P. – I want to continue karting next year, but in two years I want to jump into Formula 4, which will open doors for me to the world of motor sport, DTM, Formula E and Formula 1. Of course Formula 1 is my biggest dream, but I know it’s really hard to make it. Formula 4 is for young drivers who want to start a career in motor sports.