- March 02, 1962
- Tcr International Series
Gabriele Tarquini is an Italian racing driver, born on the 2nd of March 1962 in a coastal town Giulianova, in the province of Teramo, Italy. During his long career, he has competed in various racing series and won the World Touring Cars Championship title in 2009.
As many professional drivers, the Italian started his career in karting in 1976. Nine years later, he entered Formula 3000, spending three seasons driving for many small teams. His best result was the second place at Imola in 1987. The same year, Tarquini made the debut in Formula 1, driving Osella at San Marino Grand Prix.
In 1988, he joined Coloni team, but despite being considerably fast, he mainly failed to qualify. His driving style was aggressive, he was fast enough but relatively inconsistent. Sometimes he was nowhere near to qualify, but sometimes he was good enough to be near the top. That was the case at the Canadian Grand Prix where he ended up being the 8th, which was the best result in the history of Coloni team.
In 1989 he was supposed to drive for the FIRST team but unfortunately, the car failed the crash test leaving the unlucky driver without a ride. As a result, he ended up driving for the AGS team. Tarquini had a few good performances during the first half of the season with the highlight being the 6th place in the Mexican Grand Prix. However, in the second part of the 1989 season, his car was not competitive enough on the fast tracks and he kept failing to qualify for the races.
He stayed with the AGS team for another three years (the team was later renamed into Fondmetal F1 SpA due to the change of the owner), but the results were still extremely poor. His last race in Formula 1 was in 1995 where he finished the 14th in the European Grand Prix at Nurburgring, driving Tyrrell Yamaha.
In 1994, Tarquini switched to touring cars racing, making a debut in the British Touring Cars Championship. The start was perfect as he won the title in his first attempt, driving an Alfa Romeo. Throughout the second half of the 1990s, he also competed in the Italian Touring Cars Championship, Belgian Procar series and German STW Cup, before moving to European Touring Cars Championship, winning it for Alfa Romeo in 2003.
Tarquini is definitely best known as a World Touring Cars Championship long servant. He made the WTCC debut in the series in 2005 with Alfa Romeo, finishing the 7th at the end of the season. Next year, he drove for SEAT, scoring five wins in three years. In 2008, he came close to winning the WTCC title but had to settle for the 2nd place, 26 points behind Yvan Muller.
In 2009, he finally claimed championship laurels, becoming the FIA WTCC champion at the final race in Macau. It was a close battle with Muller, but the Italian was just a bit better, taking the title with four points in front of the Frenchman. Tarquini won three races that year and had nine more podium finishes.
SEAT decided to withdraw from the WTCC in 2010 but remained as a support to semi-works team called Sunred. Again, it was a very close season in which Gabriele Tarquini clinched five wins, but that was not enough to defend his WTCC crown, as Yvan Muller regained the title, even despite scoring only three victories, but the Frenchman was in more consistent form, taking much more podium finishes than the Italian driver who finished as a runner-up.
In 2011 and 2012, which were his final WTCC years of driving the SEAT Leon, the Italian was not so successful. He managed to score only one victory in each season, finishing fifth and fourth respectively.
In 2013, he signed a contract with the ambitious Honda WTCC team. Already a veteran driver, the Italian proved he is still able to produce good results. He won three races and had five podium finishes, but again, that was not enough to beat his old rival. Yvan Muller won the title while Tarquini again was the championship runner-up.
In 2014, Tarquini continued his winning streak with at least one race victory in every WTCC season, but at the end of the season, he was only sixth overall. His winning streak stopped in 2015, which was quite a poor season for the Italian racer. He was often accused of being too aggressive and almost representing a danger on the track. Tarquini caused several accidents during 2015 WTCC season and Honda decided not to retain his services for 2016.
It looked like Tarquini is set for retirement, but LADA Sport Rosneft team offered him a one-year contract, so the experienced driver will stay in WTCC in 2016, ready to help Russian side to be more competitive than it was in previous years.
Surprisingly, Russian manufacturer decided to withdraw from the WTCC at the end of 2016, so the experienced Italian was left without a drive for the following season and his future in motorsport looks uncertain.