Fabrizio Giovanardi is an Italian former racing driver, one of the best European touring car drivers ever and one of the Top 10 BTCC drivers of all time.
In a career, which lasted from 1987 to 2014, Giovanardi has won nine major touring car championship titles - three European titles, three time in Italy, two British trophies and one championship title in Spain. Six of nine titles he won driving Alfa Romeos, two with Vauxhall and one sole title with Peugeot.
Racing debut in the Italian Formula 3 Championship
Fabrizio Giovanardi, nicknamed Gio, was born on December 14th, 1966, in Sassuolo, Italy. As usual for many racing drivers, he started his career with karts, being successful in the Italian and international competitions. In 1987, Fabrizio moved to bigger racing cars, entering the Italian Formula 3 Championship with Prema Racing. In eleven races of his debut season, he scored one podium and finished 11th in the championship.
Gio and Naspetti travel to the USA
He stayed one more season with Prema in Formula 3, finishing third in the 1988 championship with two wins in twelve races. The champion was Emanuele Naspetti, who was Giovanardi' co-driver in the one-off appearance next year in the race of the 1989 IMSA GTP Championship. In September, Giovanardi and Naspetti traveled to the USA to compete in the 2 hours of San Antonio, driving the Alba AR9 for DeBlasi Racing. They didn't reach the finish due to engine failure.
Three season in the International Formula 3000
In the season 1989, Giovanardi was competing in the International Formula 3000 for the First Racing. With one victory at Vallelunga, he finished tenth in the points. He repeated the tenth place finish in the 1990 International Formula 3000, with second place at Pau as the best result. In 1991, the third and final season in the Formula 3000, he didn't score any wins and podiums to finish 11th in the standings.
Touring car debut with Peugeot 405 Mi16
Giovanardi's career turned into another direction in 1991, after he debuted in the Italian Touring Car Championship, driving the factory-backed Peugeot 405 Mi16 and winning five races in S2 class. In 1992, he expanded his activities to a full season and with eleven victories in 20 races he won the S2 class title, his first of many touring car titles.
Second in the championship, behind Ravaglia
With the victorious car, the Peugeot 405 Mi16, he entered the main class of the 1993 Italian Touring Car Championship and immediately became one of the title contenders, winning five races. The champion was BMW's Roberto Ravaglia, Giovanardi was seven points short and finished second, ahead of Alfa Romeo's Gabriele Tarquini. Giovanardi stayed one more season with Peugeot Italia, scoring seven podiums in 1994, but without victories. He was third in the final standings.
Giovanardi joined Alfa Romeo in 1995
After four seasons with Peugeot, Fabrizio moved to Nordauto Engineering to drive Alfa Romeo 155 TS in the 1995 Italian Touring Car Championship. It was the most important move in his career because he stayed with Alfa until 2005 and won six titles driving the cars of the Italian manufacturer.
He won no titles in first two seasons with Alfa Romeo, despite winning many races. In the 1995 Italian championship, he won one race and finished third, behind two Audi drivers Emanuele Pirro and Rinaldo Capello. He also had one guest appearance in the DTM, driving Alfa Romeo 155 V6 Ti at Norisring. He retired in the first race and didn't start the second race.
Spanish touring car champion in 1997
In 1996, Giovanardi had the double program, driving Nordauto's Alfa in both Italian and Spanish touring car championships. He participated in 30 races in both countries, winning five times, to finish 5th in the Italian championship and 6th in the Spanish championship.
Giovanardi had the same program in 1997, but this time, he was much more successful. He won three of four races in the Spanish Touring Car Championship and finally took his first trophy with Alfa. In the 1997 Italian Touring Car Championship, five wins weren't enough to beat BMW's Emanuele Naspetti and Giovanardi finished second.
Double Italian touring car championship with Alfa Romeo 156
The classification was converted in 1998 when Giovanardi won the Italian Touring Car Championship ahead of Naspetti. In 20 races with new Alfa Romeo 156, Giovanardi had an impressive score of nine wins and 18 podiums. Driving the Alfa Romeo 156, he had a guest ride at Norisring in the German Supertouring Championship but didn't get any points.
The second consecutive victory in the Italian Touring Car Championship followed in 1999, again ahead of Emanuele Naspetti in BMW. Gioavanardi's Alfa was victorious in seven of 19 races. He also won one race in the German championship, in a fact, he won in Italy, in the Italian round of German championship at Misano.
Alfa continued to dominate in the European touring series
In 2000, the Italian Supertourismo was upgraded and became the European Supertouring Championship. Giovanardi's Alfa Romeo 156 was again the dominant car and he took the championship trophy ahead of Peter Kox in the Honda Accord. In 20 races, Giovanardi won five times and added seven more podiums.
The newly crowned ESCT champion had the opportunity to test Ferrari Formula One car early in 2001.
After six consecutive titles, Gio moved to BMW
Giovanardi's dominance continued in 2001, in the revived European Touring Car Championship. In twenty races he scored three wins and 12 podiums to win the championship ahead of teammate Nicola Larini. The Alfa Romeo 156 GTA was the dominant force in the 2002 European Touring Car Championship and Giovanardi won nine races to take the title with big advantage ahead of BMW's Jorg Muller.
The fantastic streak of six consecutive titles with Alfa was stopped in 2003 when Giovanardi joined Ravaglia Motorsport to drive the BMW 320i. He wasn't successful in the conversion to rear-wheel drive and finished only ninth in the European Championship, with three podiums in twenty races.
Return to Alfa and ETCC season in the factory team
No luck with BMW, he said, and returned to the wheel of Alfa Romeo in 2004, joining Autodelta team, which was in a fact his old team with a new name. Giovanardi managed to win just one race (in Valencia) to finish 5th in the 2004 championship standings.
In 2005, the ETCC was converted to the World Touring Car Championship and Giovanardi became the part of the Alfa Romeo's four-driver factory team, alongside Gabriele Tarquini, James Thompson and Augusto Farfus. Giovanardi was the most successful of four, winning four races and finishing third in the final classification, behind BMW's Andy Priaulx and Dirk Muller.
BTCC debut with Vauxhall Astra
Alfa Romeo pulled out of the WTCC after the 2005 season, so Giovanardi had to find a new team. In late 2005, he tested a Vauxhall Astra Sports Hatch for the Triple Eight/VX Racing BTCC team and he joined the team for the 2006 British Touring Car Championship season.
He earned his first BTCC podium at Oulton Park in the third round of the championship. The first BTCC win and Vauxhall's 100th win in the British Touring Car Championship came in the eighth round of the championship at Knockhill. Giovanardi later has won one more race at Brands Hatch to finish fifth in the championship standings. During 2006, Giovanardi participated in two WTCC rounds for JAS Motorsport, driving the Honda Accord Euro R in Brazil and Macau.
Double BTCC champion with Vauxhall Vectra
In 2007, the new Vauxhall Vectra was introduced and it became Giovanardi's championship-winning car. The #5 Vectra was victorious in ten races but the championship fight was resolved in the very last race at Thruxton. Seat Sport's Jason Plato entered the final round with nine points advantage over Giovanardi. After Giovanardi has won two races at Thruxton, the Plato's advantage with one race to go was just one point. In the last race, Giovanardi crossed the finish line behind winner Mat Jackson, Plato was fourth, and Giovanardi won the championship by three points.
One more exciting BTCC season followed in 2008, but this time, five victories were enough for Giovanardi to take his second BTCC trophy in a row, again in the VX Racing's Vauxhall Vectra. He secured the title two races before the end.
V8 Supercars adventure in 2008
In 2008, Giovanardi traveled to Australia to participate in three races of the V8 Supercars Championship, primarily in the Bathurst 1000, alongside Marc Hynes in the Vodafone/Triple Eight Race Engineering's Ford Falcon. Before Bathurst, he tested the car in two races at Phillip Island. In the famous race at Mount Panorama, Giovanardi and Hynes finished 15th.
Third place in the last BTCC season
In 2009, Giovanardi continued to drive for VX Racing in the BTCC, finishing third in the points after five wins and fifteen podiums. The number of wins and podiums was the same as in 2008, but this time, it was enough for third place in the championship, behind Colin Turkington and Jason Plato. The title fight was again resolved in the very last race and the gap between first and third was just nine points at the end.
Two wins in three BTCC races in 2010
As Vauxhall left the BTCC after the season, Giovanardi was once again faced a jobless situation. He secured the sponsorship of Uniq for the season-opening round of the 2010 British Touring Car Championship, driving the Vauxhall Vectra for Triple Eight at Thruxton. He won two of three races. The sponsor pulled out before the second championship round and Giovanardi had to leave BTCC.
Driving Porsche in the Superstars Series
During 2010, he joined the N.Technology team to compete part-time in the Italian-based Superstars Series. He won four of six races, driving the Porsche Panamera S, to finish fifth in the points.
In October 2010, Giovanardi traveled again to Australia. He partnered Karl Reindler in the Britek's Holden VE Commodore at Gold Coast 600 event at Surfers Paradise, finishing ninth in the first race. Giovanardi returned to Surfers Paradise for 2011 edition of the Gold Coast 600, again driving the Britek's Holden alongside Karl Reindler.
Gio has won ETCC at Salzburgring
In 2011, Giovanardi had no full-time job and he participated occasionally in few different competitions. He joined Hartmann Honda Racing in two races of the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship and two races of the European Touring Car Cup. He won one race in the STCC and one race in the ETCC (at Salzburgring), taking the ETCC crown ahead of Pepe Oriola.
Two participations at 24 hours of Nürburgring
Giovanardi also appeared in the 2011 Italian GT Championship, scoring one podium with AB Motorsport's Porsche. At 24 hours of Nürburgring, he was hired by Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus to drive revolutionary P4/5 Competizione. His co-drivers were Mika Salo, Luca Cappellari and Nicola Larini. They rounded 133 laps around Nordschleife circuit to finish 39th in the overall classification.
Giovanardi returned to Nürburgring Nordschleife in 2012, partnering Nicola Larini and Manuel Lauck in the #1 Ferrari P4/5 Competizione of the Global Partner Enterprise. They finished 12th overall and first in the E1-XP class.
Giovanardi reactivated in 2013, competing half season in the Superstars Series, driving Porsche Panamera S for Petri Corse team. He scored no wins and podiums in eight races to finish 12th in the points.
One more BTCC season for the end of a career
When everybody expected that his career is over, 48-year-old Giovanardi entered 2014 British Touring Car Championship to compete full season in the Airwaves Racing's Ford Focus ST, prepared by Motorbase Performance. In 30 races, he recorded eleven Top 10 finishes, including his only podium and third place at Thruxton. He finished the championship in the 13th position.
No races in 2015 and 2016
He was hoping that he would continue to race for one more season, but the main sponsor Airwaves pulled out and he was again without a drive. Since then he didn't race any more. At the age of 49, Giovanardi became the retired race car driver. Or maybe not? He has no arrangement in 2016, but who knows, maybe somebody in the future will need an experienced multiple champion in a team. In 2017, he participated in one round of the Italian TCR championship with Seat Leon.