- November 08, 1947
- Not Active
Giorgio Francia is an Italian former racing driver who was active between 1972 and 1995. He was the most successful in touring car racing, being the Italian Touring Car Championship runner-up three times between 1988 and 1992 while driving Alfa Romeo cars. He also spent two seasons in the DTM with Alfa Romeo.
Early in a career, Francia was the 1974 German Formula 3 champion and he made two attempts in Formula 1 Grand Prix races in 1977 and 1981, failing to qualify for races.
Victorious start of a career
Born in November 1947 in Bologna, Giorgio Francia started his racing career in 1972, entering the inaugural season of the Abarth Formula Italia but also the Italian Formula Ford 1600.
He was successful in both competitions, winning five times in the Formula Italia and becoming a champion. In the Formula Ford, he won four times to finish second in the points.
German Formula 3 champion in 1974
In 1973, Francia progressed to the Formula 3, driving a Brabham BT41-Ford both in the Italian and British championships. He scored no wins or podiums in 1973 but improved his results in 1974, becoming the German Formula 3 champion in a March-Toyota of Scuderia Mirabella Millemiglia.
In 1974, Francia also made a debut in touring car racing, participating in Monza's round of the European Touring Car Championship in an Alfa Romeo 2000 GTAm. He returned to the ETCC Monza race next year in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTV, finishing in the fifth place.
Two seasons in the Formula 2
In 1975, Francia's main competition was the Formula 2 European Championship. He was driving Osella FA2-BMW for Osella Squadra Corse. Not scoring wins or podiums, he finished seventh in the final standings.
He stayed one more season in the Formula 2, moving from Osella team to Trivellato and driving a Chevron-BMW. Scoring just one point, he was 17th in the final standings.
Unsuccessful Formula 1 debut in 1977
In 1977, Francia was driving Osella PA5-BMW in sports car races, even scoring some victories in national races. He entered few rounds of the World Sportscar Championship, taking class victories at Monza, Vallelunga and Imola. In the second part of the season, he joined Autodelta to drive Alfa Romeo T33 in few WSC races, but also an Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV at Spa 24 Hours.
In September, Francia made Formula 1 World Championship debut with Martini Racing, participating in the Italian Grand Prix. He was driving the Alfa Romeo-powered #21 Brabham BT45B, withdrawing during a practice and not qualifying for the race.
Three different rides in 1978
In 1978, Francia was participating in different racing competitions with three different rides.He was driving BMW 320 Group 5 car for BMW Italia Osella in the World Championship for Makes. Eddie Cheever was his co-driver in most races. Francia's other car was an Osella PA6-BMW in different sports car competitions (Interserie, European Sports Car Championship). He won Interserie race at Nurburgring.
In the touring car racing, Francia was driving Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT for Autovama team in two rounds of the European Touring Car Championship, scoring Division 3 victory at Mugello.
Racing alongside Lella Lombardi
In 1979, Francia was sharing an Osella-BMW prototype with Lella Lombardi, participating in the World Championship for Makes and the Italian Group 6 Championship. They were class winners at Mugello 6 Hours and overall winners at Vallelunga 6 Hours.
In 1980, Francia scored seven victories in the Italian Group 6 Championship in an Osella PA8-BMW. He and Roberto Marazzi also triumphed in one race of the World Championship for Makes, the Vallelunga 6 Hours.
In 1981, Giorgio Francia and Lella Lombardi were partners again in the World Championship for Drivers and Makes, driving an Osella PA9-BMW. Scoring one victory and three podiums, they finished fifth in the final standings. They were race winners at Mugello 6 Hours.
One more unsuccessful Formula One attempt
Osella Squadra Corse participated in the 1981 Formula 1 season with two cars. In June, Francia had been chosen to drive the #32 OsellaFA1B-Cosworth in the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama Circuit.
Francia's second Formula 1 attempt ended in the same way as his first attempt four years earlier – he didn't qualify for the race. It was his last F1 Grand Prix participation in a career. He briefly returned to F1 in 1985, serving as a test driver for Alfa Romeo.
FIA WEC victory at Monza in 1982
Francia continued to develop his sports car racing career, driving for two teams in 1982. In April, he and Henri Pescarolo have won the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Monza, driving the #24 Rondeau M382-Cosworth. For the remainder of the season, Francia joined Osella Mirabella Racing to drive an Osella PA9-BMW. In November 1982, Francia and Bob Wollek finished third in the non-championship race Kyalami 9 Hours, driving a Porsche 936.
In the touring car racing, Francia was driving an Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV for Luigi Racing in three ETCC races, including Spa 24 Hours. He and Marco Micangeli were Division 2 winners at Zolder.
Double programme with Alfa Romeo and Lancia in 1983
In 1983, Francia again had a double programme with two Italian brands. In the European Touring Car Championship, he was driving an Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 for Luigi Racing, scoring four class victories together with Marco Micangeli.
In the sports car racing, Francia was driving Lancia LC2 for Mirabella Racing both in the World Endurance Championship and European Endurance Championship. He was sharing a car with Paolo Barilla and Piercarlo Ghinzani.
Two class victories at Spa 24 Hours
In 1984, Francia slowed down sports car racing activities to focus more on touring car racing. In the ETCC, he was driving an Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV6 for Biesse Racing Team, sharing a car with Lella Lombardi. They scored four class victories, including at Spa 24 Hours. Francia was 8th in the final ETCC standings that year.
In 1984, Francia also participated with Alfa Romeo in two races of the inaugural season of the German Production Car Championship (DTM). He returned to the DTM nine years later.
Francia continued to race with Alfa Romeo in 1985, sharing the Luigi Racing's Alfetta GTV6 with different co-drivers. He was again the class winner at Spa 24 Hours, sharing a car with Georges Cremer and Guy Pirenne.
Alfa Romeo 75 came in 1986
For the 1986 ETCC season, a new Alfa Romeo 75 was introduced. Francia was driving that car for Jolly Club Milano but without notable results.
In 1987, he participated with Alfa Corse in the World Touring Car Championship, sharing an Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo with different co-drivers. Francia was even driving Alfa at Bathurst 1000 in Australia, not finishing the race. His best result in the championship was the third place at Tourist Trophy, together with Nicola Larini.
Focusing on the Italian championship between 1988 and 1992
In 1988, Francia moved his focus in the Italian Touring Car Championship, only occasionally participating in international races. Driving an Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo and winning three races, he finished second in the Italian championship, behind Franco Brancatelli. Francia was 15th in the points in 1989 and then 11th in 1990.
He was again among the front-runners in 1991, driving an Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo for Jolly Club. He was a race winner four times, ending a season second in the points, behind BMW's Roberto Ravaglia. In 1992, Nicola Larini was the Italian Super Touring champion in an Alfa Romeo 155 GTA. Driving the same car and winning two races, Francia finished second in the points.
Two seasons in the DTM
In 1993, Francia moved to the DTM, driving the #15 Alfa Romeo 155 V6 Ti for Schübel Engineering. Alfa was a championship-winning car, with Nicola Larini at the wheel. Francia scored five podiums to finish 7th in the final standings.
He stayed one more season with Schübel Engineering in the DTM, scoring two podiums in 1994 and finishing 13th in the points. Klaus Ludwig was a champion in a Mercedes C-Class.
Ending a career in 1995
Giorgio Francia ended a career in 1995, spending his last season with Alfa Romeo in the Spanish Touring Car Championship. He was driving an Alfa Romeo 155 TS for Alfa Corse, scoring two wins and four podiums to finish fifth in the championship. His teammate Luis Villamil was a champion. In 1995, Francia also had a one-off appearance with Alfa in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, participating in season's finale at Fuji Speedway.
The season 1995 was Francia's last full season in a career but the last ever race came in 2001 when he was driving Alfa Romeo 147 at 24 Hours of Sicily. Sharing a car with Fabrizio Giovanardi, Nicola Larini and Felipe Massa, he finished in the second place.