Fabrizio Giovanardi will return to the British Touring Car Championship for the 2014 season, after it was confirmed that he will race for Airwaves Racing in an NGTC Ford Focus.
The news that the two-time series champion would return was announced during a special edition of the TinTopTuesday radio show, and will mark the Italian’s first appearance in the series since the opening round of the 2010 season, where he claimed two victories at Thruxton.
The deal also means that for the first time in his BTCC career, the 47-year-old will not compete for Triple Eight racing, with whom he won the title in 2007 and 2008.
Giovanardi, who has driven sporadically in touring cars and endurance racing since his departure from the series four years ago, was thrilled at the opportunity to return to action, and had no hesitations in stating his aim for the season.
“I am really looking forward to coming back to this special championship,” said Giovanardi. “For the last four years I have done long distance racing and for me, it’s quite boring!
“I need to be fighting for championships and this is the best place to find that, so I’m really happy to be back. Obviously, I have to respect the other guys out there but I want to come here and try to win another championship; I need to win the third one!”
The Italian was also savouring the prospect of working with a team which had previously offered him stiff opposition in the championship.
“In 2008 and 2009 I had a big battle with this team and they were one of the teams to beat then. After four years I believe they’ve got good experience, they’ve grown up and they are right at this time to give me the winning chance,” added Giovanardi. “These are passionate guys, it’s a small team but with people that work well together. Good people and the right people make the right target and I believe straight away that we can be one of the teams fighting for the championship.”
Team Boss David Bartrum was also thrilled by the deal, and was optimistic that Giovanardi’s arrival could inspire a revival in the team’s fortunes, after they failed to score a victory in 2013.
“This is a very important year for Airwaves Racing. This is going to be the one when we really do underline the product we’ve built here at Motorbase Performance and Fabrizio is the man to show you how it should go,” said Bartrum. “I tried to get Fabrizio on board a couple of years ago, we’ve talked a lot about touring cars and this year I decided just before Christmas that was the right way to try and go. It was something that Airwaves set out in their criteria; they wanted us to up our game, and I was very happy to meet it.
“The intentions are the same as last year, the team wants to win. We want to win races and we want to go after the championship and if you’re going to go after the championship this is the year to do it.”
Bartrum was also pleased with the progress his outfit has made over the winter on their Focus, having analysed their performance in the previous campaign.
“A lot of work has gone into the car over the winter. I’m really pleased with what the team has done, they’ve worked very hard. As I’ve said before, you need to take a step back and look sometimes, that’s what we’ve done and now we’re hoping to get the reward,” concluded the Motorbase boss. “We’ve always been proud of our driver line-up and no more this year than last year, but this year it’s got a little Italian spice to it that might take the team forward that bit more.”
Giovanardi currently has 24 wins in the series, with a further 41 podiums in his 122 starts between 2006 and 2010. The news of his return comes little more than a week after Team BMR confirmed that fellow two-time BTCC champion Alain Menu would compete in one of their Volkswagen Passat’s, and with Colin Turkington expected to remain in the series, seven champions are likely to contest the 2014 season.
Photo courtesy of www.pspimages.co.uk.