ROAL Motorsport - The team led by a legend of touring cars racing
ROAL Motorsport is the racing team from Legnaro, Italy, founded in 2001 by the former racing driver Roberto Ravaglia who is considered as one of the best touring car drivers of all times.
With BMW from the first day
A couple of years after he ended his very successful career, former Italian driver decided to create his own team under the name Ravaglia Motorsport. Backed by BMW, his team in 2001 entered the FIA European Super Production with two BMW 320i cars, driven by Peter Kox and Norman Simon. The start was excellent after Kox became a champion while Simon won the title in the Under 23 class.
After a blistering start, the new team in 2002 entered the FIA European Touring Car Championship under the name BMW Team Spain with Jordi Gene and Fabrizio de Simone as drivers. The results weren’t glorious after only one podium finish was scored. In the following season, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Antonio Garcia were behind the wheels of two BMW 320is. The results were something better. A total of seven podium finishes were scored before Garcia and Giovanardi finished 8th and 9th respectively. Interestingly, Alessandro Zanardi made his comeback to racing after a horrible crash in 2001 when he lost both legs. Driving the ROAL Motorsport’s specially modified BMW in the final race of the season at Monza, Zanardi finished 7th.
In 2004 Zanardi was teamed with Garcia but the team again failed to score a maiden victory in the ETCC. After scoring three podiums, Spanish driver took the 7th place in the Drivers’ championship, while the Italian driver was 15th overall.
Zanardi scored maiden victory for ROAL Motorsport
Since 2005, the team is competing under its current name – ROAL Motorsport. The ETCC became World Touring Cars Championship and those changes were lucky for the team. Alex Zanardi at Oschersleben scored a maiden victory in the series and Garcia also drove in fine form during the season. Zanardi also won the title in the Italian Super Touring Cars Championship, bringing the first trophy in the team’s showcase. Alex also finished 3rd in the first edition of the European Touring Car Cup.
Zanardi stayed with the team in 2006, while Marcel Costa and Duncan Huisman shared the second driver seat of new BMW 320si. Italian driver won in Istanbul and scored two more podiums before finishing 11th in the standings. In the following year, Felix Porteiro was teamed with Zanardi and Spanish driver did relatively well in his first year. He won the race at Automotodrom Brno and finished 12th in the Drivers’ championship, while Zanardi somewhat underachieved and with only one podium finished dropped to the 15th position in overall standings.
Brno was the lucky circuit
Both drivers remained with ROAL Motorsport in 2008 and at Automotodrom Brno they scored maiden 1-2 finish for the team in the WTCC race, with Zanardi as a winner. The Italian driver almost scored double that day but finished 2nd in the main race, narrowly losing to his compatriot Gabriele Tarquini. Porteiro later in the season triumphed at Oschersleben and took the 10th place in the championship, while Zanardi was 13th.
The same year ROAL Motorsport developed the BMW M3 for the Superstars Series and Italian driver Luca Rangoni scored a victory in his first race. In the following year, Gianni Morbidelli won the title in the Superstars International Series driving the BMW M3 sedan prepared by ROAL Motorsport.
In 2009 WTCC Zanardi drove alongside Sergio Hernandez. They won both races at Brno and, interestingly, those were the only podiums scored by the team that year. Hernandez and Zanardi finished 11th and 12th in the final standings respectively.
A short break and return to the WTCC
ROAL Motorsport left the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2010 and focused solely to Superstars Series with the new BMW M3 coupe. That was the very fruitful season for the team after Thomas Biagi won both Italian and International Superstars Series titles, scoring a total of six wins for ROAL Motorsport.
In 2011, Italian team returned to WTCC with the new BMW 320 TC and Tom Coronel as a driver. The experienced Dutch driver won the race at Suzuka and scored other four podiums before finishing 4th in the Drivers’ Championship. Alberto Cerqui became the champion in the Superstars Italian Series at the wheel of the BMW M3.
Coronel in 2012 failed to score a victory in the WTCC but still had a good campaign and had five podium finishes before taking the 5th place overall, while Alberto Cerqui was 8th in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy. At the same time, ROAL Motorsport entered the Italian GT Championship with the BMW Z4 GT3. Thomas Biagi and Stefano Colombo claimed the title, amassing a total of five wins and the same number of pole positions for the team. ROAL Motorsport won the Teams’ title in 2013 Italian GT Championship, having an all-Italian driver line-up of Michela Cerruti, Stefano Colombo, and Stefano Comandini.
ROAL Motorsport won 2014 Yokohama Teams’ Trophy
The season in the WTCC also was fine. Coronel won the races in Slovakia and Japan before taking the 10th place in the final classification, while Darryl O’Young was 6th in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy. ROAL Motorsport finished 5th in the Teams’ Trophy that year.
The season of 2014 was one of the best so far. ROAL Motorsport lost BMW factory backing in the WTCC and switched to Chevrolet to compete in the Independent entries championship with Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton as drivers. British driver scored the only victory for the team in Beijing but thanks to many strong finishes of both drivers ROAL Motorsport won the Yokohama Teams’ Trophy.
Blancpain GT Series was a new challenge
Roberto Ravaglia’s squad will enter a specially modified 2014-specificated BMW Z4 GT3 for former ChampCar-champion and Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi for the Blancpain Sprint Series. He finished 20th in the standings, while the second car driven by David Fumanelli and Stefano Colombo was runner-up in Silver Cup. Finally, ROAL Motorsport was 10th in the Blancpain GT Series Teams’ Championship.
The same year ROAL Motorsport also entered the Blancpain Endurance Series and won the Pro-Am class in the season-opening race at Monza. In the following seasons team continued to race in the Endurance Series but without too much success.
Another WTCC Trophy was won in 2015
ROAL Motorsport left Blancpain GT Series in 2015 but continued in the WTCC and defended its Yokohama Teams’ Trophy title. Coronel and Chilton again were behind the wheel of two Chevrolets and even being unable to score a race win, they were in the consistent form over the season. At the same time, Chilton was 3rd in the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy standings.
In 2016, the team reduced its presence in the WTCC to one car with Coronel as a driver. Dutch veteran surprised many by winning in two races, in Morocco and Portugal, and finishing 3rd in the WTCC Trophy standings. At the same time, ROAL Motorsport was the vice-champion in the WTCC Teams’ Trophy.