Fabrizio Giovanardi will return to the top tier of global touring car racing in 2018 when the Italian races an Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR for Team Mulsanne in the FIA world Touring Car Cup (WTCR).
Giovanardi last raced full-time in the British Touring Car Championship, in which he claimed two titles, in 2014, and has since not been seen regularly in touring cars.
The Italian enjoyed considerable tin-top success in the late 1990s and early 200s, claiming Super Touring titles in Spain in 1997, Italy in 1998 and 1999 and the European title in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He then moved into the WTCC for its formative year in 2005 before switching to the BTCC in 2006 and going on to lift the British crown in 2007 and 2008.
The 51-year-old is the first signing for Team Mulsanne, who have recently been seen testing with Giovanardi, Gianni Morbidelli and Kevin Gleason at Monza.
“I wish to thank everybody at Romeo Ferraris who have made possible the 2018 season,” said Giovanardi. “I had the pleasure of driving the car very recently, and I was very impressed.
“For me, it will be a comeback on the world stage after a few years out of racing, but my passion and hunger for victory are intact. At Monza, I had the chance to start a journey that hopefully will bring a lot of satisfaction for those involved in the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris project.”
Romeo Ferraris Operations Manager Michela Cerruti is aware that the team must remain realistic in their expectations for the coming season, with Giovanardi’s only recent racing experience coming in TCR Italy in 2017 with a guest appearance.
“To have Fabrizio with us in such an important venture is a crucial element of our programme,” said Cerruti. “Racing at the highest level in 2018 represents a big step forward for our organisation and for Team Mulsanne, who will be competing against many prestigious brands and teams.
“We have progressed with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris, and the positive feedback received from Fabrizio at the test in Monza has made possible what at the beginning was only a dream.
“Still, we do not live in Wonderland and we know we’ll have to perform at 100 per cent to be competitive in such a top series as WTCR.”
Head of Eurosport Events François Ribeiro is looking forward to having the eight-time touring car champion on the grid for the first time at FIA level since 2006.
“Team Mulsanne’s entry not only brings a seventh customer racing brand to the grid, in Fabrizio Giovanardi we welcome a touring car legend whose vast experience will certainly be a strong asset to the team as it develops the car and brings back that iconic touring car brand to where it belongs: the top.”