Touring car legend Fabrizio Giovanardi will make a full-time return to racing after signing on with the Romeo Ferraris team’s FIA World Touring Car Cup line-up.
The Italian is ranked as the greatest touring car driver of all time, with ten championship titles to his name including three European Touring Car Championships in a row (2000-2002) and back-to-back British Touring Car Championships (2007-8).
The 51-year-old will reunite with the Alfa Romeo brand with which he has claimed the bulk of his touring car crowns, and will drive a Giulietta TCR.
The new FIA WTCR has so far attracted a host of headline names, with WTCC title-winners Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini, Rob Huff and Thed Björk all confirmed alongside TCR championship winners Aurélien Comte and Jean-Karl Vernay. Giovanardi is undoubtedly the biggest name of all.
Giovanardi last raced full-time in 2014 in the BTCC, while his last competitive hit-out in an Alfa Romeo came in 2005 when he raced in the first season of the re-former World Touring Car Championship.
His appointment follows a successful two-day test with Romeo Ferraris at Monza, where he publicly praised the Giulietta TCR.
“I wish to thank everybody at Romeo Ferraris who have made it possible to reach an agreement for the 2018 season,” said Giovanardi.
“I had the pleasure of driving the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR very recently, and I was very very impressed by the car. For me, it will be a come back on the world stage after a few years out of racing, but my passion and thirst for victory are intact. At Monza, I had the chance to start a journey that hopefully will bring a lot of satisfaction for all those involved in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris project.”
The Romeo Ferraris team has made significant strides with its project to develop the Giulietta TCR into a competitive prospect. The car was debuted in 2016 with Michela Cerruti and Petr Fulín driving, while it was raced last year under the GE-Force banner with Dušan Borković and Davit Kajaia at the wheel. The latter pairing went on to claim three victories during the 2017 season.
Former driver and now operations manager Michela Cerruti was delighted to have secured a driver of Giovanardi’s pedigree to its line-up.
“To be able to have Fabrizio with us in such an important venture is a crucial element of our programme,” she said.
“Racing at the highest level in 2018 represents a big step forward for our organisation and for Team Mulsanne, who will be competing against many prestigious brands and top teams.
“From our side, we have progressed with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris, and the positive feedback received from Fabrizio at the test in Monza has made it possible to materialise what at the beginning was only a dream. Still, we do not live in wonderland, and we know we’ll have to perform at 100% to be competitive in a top series as challenging as the WTCR.”
The identity of Giovanardi’s teammate will be revealed in due course.
Image via FIA WTCR Media