At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Fabrizio Giovanardi – racing driver

Touring car specialist has won 10 titles

Fabrizio Giovanardi has been racing for more than 30 years
Fabrizio Giovanardi has been racing
for more than 30 years
One of the most successful touring car racers in history, the former Alfa Romeo and Vauxhaul driver Fabrizio Giovanardi, was born in Sassuolo, not far from Modena, on this day in 1966.

Giovanardi has won the European Championship twice, the European Cup twice, the British Championship twice, the Italian Championship three times and the Spanish touring car title once.

His best season in the World Championship came in 2005, when he finished third behind the British driver Andy Priaulx.

At the peak of his success, Giovanardi won a title each season for six consecutive years.

Like many drivers across the motor racing spectrum, Giovanardi had his first experience of competition in karting, winning Italian and World titles in 125cc karts in 1986, before graduating to Formula Three and Formula 3000.

He was hoping from there to step up to Formula One but although he won a number of races the opportunity to drive competitively for an F1 team did not come about.

It was during the 1991 season that he tried his luck in touring cars and met with immediate success, winning five class S2 races in a Peugeot 405, prompting him to focus on touring cars in the 1992 season. He remained at class S2 level and won his first title, the Italian Superturismo Championship, finishing first in 12 races for a commanding lead of 68 points over British driver Gary Ayles.

The Vauxhall Vectra in which Giovanardi won the 2007 British Touring Car Championship
The Vauxhall Vectra in which Giovanardi won the
2007 British Touring Car Championship
He moved into the main class of the championship with Peugeot in 1993, finishing in the top three overall twice before moving to Nordauto Engineering Alfa Romeo in 1995.

In his début season with Alfa, Giovanardi again finished in third. He continued in the Italian series in 1996 while simultaneously contesting the four-race Campeonato de España de Turismo, which would give him his second touring car title in 1997, when he was also runner-up in the Italian series.

It began a run of six titles in as many seasons for the Nordauto team, comprising consecutive Italian titles in 1998 and 1999, the European Super Touring Cup in 2000, the European Super Touring Championship in 2001 and the European title in 2002.

Giovanardi’s career stalled when Alfa Romeo decided to pull out of touring but he put himself back on track when he joined Vauxhall Racing to compete in the British Touring Car Championship.

Giovanardi finished third in the 2005 World Championship in this Honda Accord
Giovanardi finished third in the 2005 World Championship
in this Honda Accord
He finished fifth in the 2006 season in an Astra before finding that the new Vectra suited him very well, winning the 2007 title after a season-long battle with SEAT Sport’s Jason Plato.

Giovanardi successfully defended his title in 2008 and finished third in 2009, but suffered another blow when Vauxhall decided that would be their last season in touring car racing, citing the economic downturn for their withdrawal.

At 44 years old, Giovanardi had one more triumph, winning the European Touring Car Cup for Hartmann Honda Racing, but after moving from one team to another in search of the right car he effectively retired after the 2014 season.

His guest appearance at the Vallelunga round of the Italian championship in September 2017, when he drove a SEAT León for BF Motorsport and finished fourth, was his first competitive drive for three years.

Away from the track, Giovanardi is a keen pilot and has a passion for renovating houses.  He is married with one son, Luca.

The Palazzo Ducale in Sassuolo
The Palazzo Ducale in Sassuolo
Travel tip:

Sassuolo is a town in Emilia-Romagna, some 17km (11 miles) southwest of Modena.  With a population of just over 40,000 Sassuolo is a major centre for the production of ceramics, with more than 300 factories producing 80 per cent of all Italy’s ceramic tiles, making it one of the most important ceramic centres in the world.  At the centre of town, Piazza Garibaldi is a pleasant square and the 17th-century Palazzo Ducale, designed by Bartolomeo Avanzini, is a handsome building. Sassuolo’s football club made history in 2013 when they were promoted to Serie A for the first time in their 93-year existence.

The Vallelunga racing circuit from the air
The Vallelunga racing circuit from the air
Travel tip:

The Vallelunga motor racing circuit – the Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi – can be found 32km (20 miles) north of Rome, close to the town of Campagnano di Roma. Owned by the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI), the 4.1km (2.5 miles) track has held the Rome Grand Prix since 1963.  The track is used by the FIA as a test circuit for Formula One teams and has also hosted the Six Hours of Vallelunga endurance event.  In autumn of each year, Vallelunga hosts a vast flea-market specialising mainly in vintage automotive spare parts.

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