- April 20, 1961
- Not Active
Paolo Barilla is an Italian former racing driver whose career lasted from 1980 to 1991. In that period, Barilla participated mostly in single-seater and sports car races, including nine starts in the Formula One and six participations at 24 hours of Le Mans. In Formula One, Barilla was driving for Italian Minardi team. At Le Mans, Barilla scored an overall victory in 1985, driving a Porsche 956 for Joest Racing, together with Klaus Ludwig and Louis Krages.
Outside of racing, Barilla is one of the heirs of the famous Barilla pasta empire. After retiring from professional racing, Paolo joined his brothers Guido and Luca to lead a company. Since then, he occasionally participated in some racing and historic racing events.
Karting champion and third in the Formula 3
Paolo Barilla was born on April 20, 1961, in Milan, Italy. As a teenager, he was racing with go-karts, becoming the Italian 100cc champion in 1976. In 1980, he switched from go-karts to Formula Fiat Abarth. The next step was the Formula 3 in 1981. He was quite successful, winning two races in the Italian F3 championship and finishing third in the points.
Unsuccessful Formula 2 attempts
In 1981, Barilla also made his debut in Formula 2, participating in a couple of races for Minardi. In 1982, he entered the full season in the Formula 2 with Minardi. Driving the BMW-powered Minardi 281B, Barilla didn't score points in twelve races. His best result was 7th place in two races, at Silverstone and Thruxton. In 1983, Barilla participated in only one F2 races, moving his career into sports car racing.
Le Mans debut with Lancia LC2
Barilla joined Scuderia Mirabella to drive Lancia LC2 and debuted at 1000 km of Nurburgring in may 1983. A month later, he participated for the first time at 24 hours of Le Mans, driving the #6 Lancia LC2 for Martini Racing. His co-drivers were Alessandro Nannini and Jean-Claude Andruet. They retired due to turbocharger problems after 135 laps.
Later in the season, Barilla managed to finish only one race in the World Endurance Championship, at Spa-Francorchamps. He and Giorgio Francia were sixth in the Mirabella's Lancia.
Three world championship podiums in 1984
In 1984, Barilla spent a full season with Martini Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, scoring three podiums in seven races. His partner in the #5 Lancia LC2 was Mauro Baldi. They finished third at Monza and Nurburgring. At Kyalami 1000 km race, Barilla and Bob Wollek finished second. At the end of the season, Barilla was 10th in the FIA WEC classification.
At 24 hours of Le Mans, he recorded one more retirement. The #5 Lancia, which he was sharing with Mauro Baldi and Hans Heyer, stopped after 275 laps.
Victory at 1985 Le Mans 24 hours
For the 1985 FIA WEC season, Barilla joined Joest Racing to drive Porsche 956. Sharing a car with different teammates, he scored one victory and three podiums, finishing seventh in the final standings.
The highlight of the season was Barilla's victory at 24 hours of Le Mans. The #7 New-Man Joest Racing Porsche 956 B won the race with a 3-lap advantage over the nearest rivals. Barilla was sharing a victorious car with Klaus Ludwig and Louis Krages, who participated under the pseudonym John Winter.
Double program with Porsche in 1986
In 1986, Barilla had a double program with Porsche, participating in the World Sports-Prototype Championship and in the IMSA GTP Championship. In February, he debuted at Daytona 24 hours, not finishing the race. In the next IMSA round, at Miami Grand Prix Street Circuit, he and Bob Wollek won the race. It remained his only win in America and he finished 19th in the championship points.
In the World Championship, Paolo's best result was a victory at Fuji 1000 km, where he was sharing Joest Racing's Porsche 956 B with Piercarlo Ghinzani. At 24h Le Mans, Barilla was again accompanied by Klaus Ludwig and Louis Krages. They retired after 196 laps.
Two seasons in the Formula 3000
In the last round of the 1986 Formula 3000 International championship, at Bugatti Circuit, Barilla joined San Remo Racing but failed to qualify for the race. In 1987, he joined Pavesi Racing to participate full season in the Formula 3000. His best result was seventh place and he scored no points
He spent one more season in the Formula 3000, driving for three different teams (Colin Bennett Racing, Spirit Tom's Racing and Jordan Racing) in 1988. He collected some points with a fourth-place finish at Brands Hatch, ending the season in 17th place.
Driving Alfa Romeo in the FIA WTCC
While racing in the Formula 3000, Barilla was also driving Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo for Alfa Corse team in the 1987 FIA World Touring Car Championship. He participated in six races, not scoring points and finishing 22nd in the final standings.
Podium at 1988 Sebring 12 hours
In 1988, Barilla was combining Formula 3000 and sports car races, driving different prototypes all over the world. At Daytona 24 hours, he didn't reach the finish with Buick Momo March 86G, which he shared with Michael Roe and Gianpiero Moretti.
Two Le Mans attempts with Toyota
In 1988, Barilla was also driving for Toyota Team Tom's in some Japanese races but also at Le Mans. His car at Circuit de la Sarthe was #37 Toyota 88C, his co-drivers were Tiff Needell and Hitoshi Ogawa. They reached the finish, in the 24th place overall and 15th in the C1 class.
Barilla returned with Toyota at Le Mans in 1989, driving the #36 Toyota 89C-V alongside Hitoshi Ogawa and Ross Cheever. They retired after 45 laps. During 1989, Barilla was driving for Toyota in some races of the World championship and Japanese championship, with a victory at Fuji as his best result.
Nine Formula One starts with Minardi
In 1989, Barilla also took place in the Japanese Formula 3000, scoring one podium in ten races and finishing 10th in the points. In October 1989, while in Japan, Barilla had a chance to replace Pierluigi Martini in Minardi F1 team at Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit. In the #23 Minardi M189-Cosworth, Barilla qualified in the 19th place. His race was over in the opening lap as he had to stop because of broken clutch.
Barilla was signed by Minardi as a full-time driver for the 1990 Formula One season, to drive the #24 car alongside Pierluigi Martini in the #23 car. Barilla failed to qualify six times, taking part in eight races. His best result was 11th place at San Marino Grand Prix. For the last two races of the season, he was replaced by Gianni Morbidelli.
Paolo closed his racing career at the end of 1991
After leaving Formula One, Barilla spent one more season racing with different teams in the sports car and touring car races. He joined Joest Racing at Daytona 24h, not finishing the race in the Porsche 962C. He was driving Porsche for Courage Competition at Suzuka's round of World Sportscar Championship, finishing in the 8th place together with Eje Elgh. His other competitions were Japanese Touring Car Championship with Nissan Skyline GT-R and Italian Touring Car Championship with BMW M3.
Following the 1991 season, at the age 30, Barilla closed his racing career to focus on business. Since then, he had one-off appearances in some racing competitions (Ferrari Challenge, Mini Rushour or Radical European Masters). In 2002, he participated at Dakar Rally in a truck category with Mercedes Unimog, finishing in 8th place. In 2015 and 2016, Barilla participated in the FIA Masters Historic Formula One championship, driving a Williams FW07C.