Perhaps passion doesn’t have a beginning. It’s either there or it’s not. It has always been inside me. I have a childhood memory of Niki Lauda at the world championship in 1977, when I was four. I remember perfectly the shock which Gilles Villeneuve’s accident caused; his son and I are, more or less, the same age. My father tells me about a time when, as a child, I entered his room at four in the morning and woke him up to ask him to buy me a racing car. Then came the great seasons of Lucchinelli and Uncini, the two world champions. I was eleven and I had a bicycle. One day an old lady literally pulled me out from under a parked car. She slapped me, asking what I was thinking. With my skin painfully grazed on the asphalt, I answered: “If Lucchinelli could make it riding his motorbike at 200 km/h I could make it as well riding my bicycle at 30.”
But the values held by my family and the world I belonged to were different: culture and responsibility above all (“study!”). The duty to fulfill one’s potential. The duty to do one’s duty. From the beginning everybody in our family had to live by those values. Cars, music, even love, everything came after duty: “When you have to be there, you have to be there.” And then the money. Cars are expensive and car racing costs even more. However, in the silence of long car trips, while my father was stepping on the gas, my mother would keep her eye on all the curbs, sidewalks and guardrails along the way.
But there was something else as well. Insecurity, adolescence, low self-esteem, low self-confidence. All the great guys out there (Lauda, Villeneuve, Piquet and then Mansell, Senna, Schumacher) were Martians! Who was I to hope to get to a racetrack, even through the back door? Become an F1 driver? That didn’t even cross my mind. I had a privileged life; I was given an opportunity to get a proper education and was even allowed to take my time, I was loved and had everything necessary to live a middle-class life.
In the month of August of 1991 I went to London to study English. On an early Sunday morning I happened to be on a go-kart track while some mini-championship was taking place, a one-day mini-league for amateurs. It wasn’t very expensive (back then, just like now, it was less expensive anywhere outside Italy) and I decided: “I will do it!” I tried and I won. The race had no significance – we were all anything but good drivers – but I had the opportunity to taste victory. And I liked it. I started to save up for driving courses. Safe driving, sports driving and then various other skills. Siegfried Stohr, who I can’t fail to mention in this story, is simply the best. Through him, I got an opportunity to test a Clio GR N at Misano. The more I trained, the better I got. Everyone has a place on Earth where he belongs and feels best. For me, that place is the racetrack.
I spent Christmas of 2005 in front of the computer, looking for car races I could participate in, though spending as little as possible. I didn’t know anything about the world of racing, I didn’t know anyone; I had neither a driver friend nor anyone else involved in any way in the sport. I found the C1 Cup. No sooner had I sent an email asking for more information then I was called to Madrid to work. I stayed there for two years, and then off to Asia. But the seed had been planted. So I rented an old Civic, I put four slicks on and, in the spring of 2008, I spent a day at the racetrack in Zhuhai, China. What a treat! Me in a rickety crate with four slicks and a gearbox on the left. I was in paradise where there was neither a sign in English nor anyone who could speak the language. Still, I felt at home. I then went back to my actual home, to Milan, in early 2009. I started looking for and I found Luca Carluccio who was an intermediary between naive guys like me and the Formula Junior teams. I emailed him as if I was asking Montezemolo for a chance. He called me and I got an opportunity to drive my first racing car on the Lombardore track – zero degrees and my heart pounding. It felt as if I was in an F1 car at Spa.
I asked myself: “What more than that could you possibly want from life?” I thought that having an opportunity to race on a real racetrack a few times a year was all I could dream of. It was, after all, something that I had never even hoped for. Every time I went a bit faster, I counted seconds as if they were minutes, and then the tenths as if they were seconds. Still, Stefano Turchetto decided I was worth an insult. And Stefano doesn’t insult just anyone. We became friends. From then on, the pace was blistering: the first race in Varano (27 September 2009), the 46th Cadet Trophy in 2010 and the jump to Formula 2.0. My 2.0.
There is a sticker on my car that I stole from Turchetto: “What if I hadn’t tried…”
|2018||VdeV Challenge Monoplace, placed 1st in the Gentlemen category and 4th overall|
|2017||VdeV Challenge Monoplace, placed 2nd in the Gentlemen category and 8th overall|
|2016||VdeV Challenge Monoplace, placed 1st in the Gentlemen category and 7th overall|
|2015||VdeV Challenge Monoplace, placed 1st in the Gentlemen category and 6th overall|
|2014||Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS|
|2013||Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS|
|2012||Winter Trophy, placed 2nd in the Tatuus Renault 2.0 category and 4th overall|
|2012||Challenge Formula Renault 2.0 Italy, placed 1st in the Gentlemen category and 10th overall|
|2012||Formula 2000 Light, placed 1st in the Tatuus Renault 2.0 category and 6th overall|
|2011||Winter Trophy, Formula 2000 Light, placed 1st in the Over 35 standings, 1st in the Tatuus Renault 2.0 category and 3rd overall|
|2011||Formula 2000 Light, placed 2nd in the Over 35 standings, 3rd in the Tatuus Renault 2.0 category and 4th overall|
|2010||TROFEO CADETTI on Reggiani F. Monza 1.2, placed 9th (5th in the Over 23 standings)|
|2009||TROFEO CADETTI, debut on Reggiani F. Monza 1.2|
|Date of birth||20/08/1973|
|Place of birth||Milan, Italy|
|Children||Sergio (born in 2010), Anna (born in 2012) and Dario (born in 2015)|
|First race car||Reggiani F. Monza 1.2|
|Debut||27/09/2009, Varano de' Melegari, ITA|
|Languages||Italian, English, French, Spanish|
|Education||Degree in Philosophy, MBA, Master in Motorsport Management|
|22.03.2018||Barcelona, Spain||Ultimate Cup Series|
|26.04.2019||Dijon-Prenois, France||Ultimate Cup Series|
|24.05.2019||Slovakia Ring, Slovakia||Ultimate Cup Series|
|28.06.2019||Mugello, Italy||Ultimate Cup Series|
|27.09.2019||Valencia, Spain||Ultimate Cup Series|
|18.10.2019||Magny-Cours, France||Ultimate Cup Series|
|01.11.2019||Paul Ricard, France||Ultimate Cup Series|
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