‘Dream it, believe it, try it’ is the motto of Tony Gallardo, a designer at the SEAT Design Centre, who clearly applies this philosophy to his daily life, especially when it comes to his two great passions – cycling and designing the cars of the future. Hobby and career, two seemingly different concepts, come together for the long haul.
“Just like every race, which requires intense preparation and training, designing a car is a long-term commitment and you have to give your very best”, says Tony, who points out that the car industry is very demanding, and that against a background of fierce competition, “only the best are able to sell their products”.“The same happens in a competition – only the best one wins”, he adds.
Every weekend, Tony puts aside the sketches that outline the silhouette of future cars and gets on his bike to train. While loading his bike in the generous 1,470 litre luggage compartment of the new, 280 PS Leon ST CUPRA, one of his latest design projects, he admits that his hobby gives him “a feeling of total freedom”. Keeping an eye out at the wheel for suitable mountain terrain where he can put his skills and technique to the test, Tony affirms that the driving experience is similar to his ride feel when he’s racing. “The way this car artfully masters the road is awesome”, he claims.
When he reaches a promising trail he gets on his bike and soon finds that the rocky ground is slippery from the previous night’s heavy rainfall. These aren’t the same conditions, but in a few months Tony will be facing the gruelling Moroccan Sahara when he takes part in the Titan Desert, a six-day event that is considered the Dakar of cyclists.
“This race is extremely tough due to high temperatures, the desert sand that slows you down, and especially the tiredness that builds up over the days after racing long stages”, he explains.
Extreme or not, for Tony each race means “testing my spirit of success, improving every day and finally, trying to win”, he says. Drinking from a water bottle during a break, he claims these are the same attributes he has to use in his work as a designer. “Designing the cars of tomorrow is an enormous challenge and we put all our passion into it”, he says.
Tony covers up to 12,000 kilometres a year on his bike and it takes five years to produce the final design of a car. Both in his personal life and his career, he really goes the extra mile.