Giovanni Lavaggi is an Italian former racing driver who recorded ten participations in Formula One World Championship Grand Prix races in 1995 and 1996 but he was more successful in sports car racing.
He reached a class podium at Le Mans 24 Hours in 1992 and won Daytona 24 Hours in 1995, scoring both with Kremer Racing. He was Interserie champion in1993, also with Kremer Racing. Later in a career, he constructed his own Lavaggi LS1 Le Mans Prototype, using it in the Le Mans Series.
Early years in single-seaters, switching to prototypes in 1987
Born in February 1958 in Augusta, Sicily, as a nobleman by birth, Lavaggi spent early years of his career in different single-seater competitions, mostly in the Italian Formula 3. In 1968, he joined Jolly Club Milano to drive Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 in some touring car races.
In 1987, he participated with two different teams and two different cars in two rounds of the World Sports-Prototype Championship, recording DNFs in both races. He was driving Alba AR3-Cosworth for Luigi Taverna Racing at Brands Hatch and Bardon DB1/2-Cosworth for John Bartlett Racing. In 1988, he joined Swiss Team Salamin in the same championship, driving a Porsche 962C in four races.
Debut at Le Mans 24h with Kremer Racing in 1989
In 1989, Lavaggi joined Porsche Kremer Racing in the WSPC races but also at Le Mans 24 Hours. He was driving the #10 Porsche 962 CK6. In his debut at Circuit de la Sarthe, Lavaggi was sharing a car with Kunimitsu Takahashi and Bruno Giacomelli. They retired after 303 laps.
In the WSPC races, his best result was the third place at Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers together with George Fouche. Lavaggi also joined Alpha Cubic Racing Team to drive a Porsche 962C at Fuji 1000 Kilometers, a round of the Japanese Sports Prototype Championship.
In 1990, Lavaggi remained Porsche prototype driver in the World Sports Prototype Championship but also in the Interserie races. He partnered Tim Lee-Davey in his Porsche 962C not only in the championship but also at Le Mans. The third driver was Max Cohen-Olivar. They finished the race in 19th place.
1991 - unsuccessful season in the Formula 3000
In 1991, Lavaggi left prototype for one year and participated in the International Formula 3000 Championship with Crypton Engineering (five rounds) and Roni Motorsport (five rounds).
His results were disappointing. In ten round, he managed to qualify for just two races. He retired at Autodromo di Pergusa and finished 12th at Circuit de Nogaro.
C3 class podium at 1992 Le Mans 24 Hours
In 1992, Lavaggi left Formula 3000 and made some tests with March F1 team but the highlight of the season was his podium at Le Mans 24 Hours.
Interseries champion in 1993
In 1993, Lavaggi stayed at the wheel of Kremer's Porsche, winning the championship title in the Interserie in the #2 Porsche Kremer CK7 Spyder. He won three of six rounds (Jarama, Mugello, Most) and added two more podiums.
1994 – two starts and two DNQs in the Indy Car World Series
In 1994, Lavaggi decided again to enter open-wheel racing. This time, he went to the US to try himself in the CART PPG Indy Car World Series. His first attempt at Detroit Grand Prix in the #50 Euromotorsport Lola-Ilmor wasn't successful, he didn't qualify for the race.
At Grand Prix of Cleveland, he moved to the #23 Leader Car Racing Lola, starting the race and finishing 30th. He returned to the #23 car at Road America, finishing in 15th place. His last Indy Car attempt was in season's finale at Laguna Seca, where he failed to qualify for the race.
Victory at 1995 Daytona 24 Hours
Lavaggi started the season 1995 with his biggest success in a career – he won Daytona 24 Hours. He reached the top podium spot together with Marco Werner, Jürgen Lässig and Christophe Bouchut, driving the #10 Kremer K8-Porsche.
In March, Lavaggi joined Kremer Racing in another American endurance classics, at Sebring 12 Hours. Sharing a car with Jürgen Lässig and Christophe Bouchut, he finished 30th.
Four DNFs in four starts in 1995 Formula One season
In July 1995, Lavaggi made a debut in the Formula One World Championship. He bought a seat in the Pacific Racing team, making four starts in the #16 Pacific PR02-Ford. His first F1 race was the British Grand Prix. He was the slowest qualifier (24th) and ended a race after 27 laps with broken gearbox.
The same scenario followed in three more Grand Prix events, at Hungaroring, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. He spun off in Hungary and Italy and stayed on track for 27 laps in Belgium.
Six F1 Grand Prix events with Minardi in 1996
Good financial backing enabled Lavaggi to buy a seat in Minardi F1 Team for the last six rounds of the 1996 F1 Championship. He was driving the #21 M195B-Ford for the first time at Hockenheimring, failing to qualify for the German Grand Prix.
He started at Hungaroring and spun off on lap 70 but he was classified as tenth. He failed to qualify at Spa, retired early at Monza, finished 15th at Estoril and failed to qualify at Suzuka.
Besides his commitments in Formula 1, Lavaggi participated in two races of the BPR International Endurance GT Series, at Monza and Nurburgring, driving a Porsche 911 GT2 for Promosport Italia.
Racing with his own team since 1998
After unsuccessful qualifying attempt for 1997 Le Mans with Kremer Racing, Lavaggi started to drive for his own team GLV Brums in the International Sports Racing Series. His was driving the #12 Ferrari 333 SP, finishing best in the fourth place at Anderstorp, with Marco Werner as his co-driver.
In 1999, he scored one victory in the Sports Racing World Cup, sharing the #5 Ferrari 333 SP with Gaston Mazzacane at Magny-Cours. In 2000, besides racing in the Sports Racing World Cup with GLV Brums Ferrari, Lavaggi also made a start at Nurburgring's round of the American Le Mans Series.
Last Le Mans 24 attempt in 2000
In June 2000, he came for the last time to Le Mans, driving the #72 Porsche 996 GT3-R for Repsol Racing Engineering, sharing a car with two Spanish drivers and not finishing the race.
Lavaggi stayed in a Ferrari 333 SP in 2001, participating in the FIA Sportscar Championship and winning the race at Monza, together with Christian Vann. In 2003, besides driving GLV racing's Ferrari, he was also driving Taurus Racing's Lola-Judd in some races of the FIA Sportscar Championship. In the following two years, he had occasional appearances in the Le Mans Series with Auto Palace Ferrari 360 Modena GT and JWA Porsche 996 GT3-RS.
Racing with own-built LMP1 prototype
In 2006, Lavaggi constructed his own LMP1 prototype, naming it Lavaggi LS1. He also renamed a team to Lavaggi Sport. He made a debut in a car at Jarama 1000 Kilometers, a round of the Le Mans Series. He was using that car in the next three Le Mans Series seasons, until 2009, under the banner of Scuderia Lavaggi.
The car was pretty unreliable and Lavaggi didn't finish either one LMS race in 2007 and 2008. In November 2008, he finally reached the finish at non-championship Vallelunga 6 Hours in the tenth place.
With the retirement of his LMP1 car at the end of 2009, Lavaggi also retired from active racing. He occasionally participated in some touring car races and classic car races.