WEC's Top 5 Piloti Italiani
As the WEC heads to Monza next month we take a look at five very special Italian aces.....
The WEC has seen countless Italian aces showing their skills on the race tracks of the world since 2012.
The nation imbues the passion and the flair so intrinsic of motor sport generally, with Monza its natural theatre.
Later this year the Autodromo Nazionale celebrates its 100th anniversary, but here we celebrate the top five drivers who have achieved and contributed most to a decade of corsa fantastica!
Born in Rome, Gianmarria Bruni enjoyed a successful single-seater career which peaked with 18 Grand Prix starts for Minardi in 2004.
‘Gimmi’ has since become one of the most familiar faces in the WEC paddock for the last decade bringing wins aplenty. But is his fierce focus and his unending desire to win that has fascinated fans, commentators and even some of his rivals over the years.
His WEC story started with remarkable success with a hat-trick of wins at Le Mans, Silverstone and Interlagos in 2012 with AF Corse Ferrari. A year later he was champion with Giancarlo Fisichella and he followed that up in 2014 with a successful defence of the title with new teammate Toni Vilander.
Bruni just missed out on a third title in 2015 and then at the end of 2016 came the bombshell that he would move to arch-rivals Porsche. He was forced to sit out 2017 for contractual reasons.
He made his Porsche debut at Silverstone in 2018 striking up long-lasting partnerships with Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki. Two runners-up positions at Le Mans and wins at Sebring and Silverstone in the 2019-20 season were the highlights.
That was until two weeks ago when the trio took a memorable victory at Le Mans in their Porsche 911 RSR-19.
Gimmi and Richard now lead the 2022 WEC points in the World Endurance GTE title race.
Universally known as ‘Dindo’, this genial racer from Asti, sparkled for three decades in international racing.
After a single-seater career ceased in 1990, Capello transitioned to touring and sportscar racing where he struck up an instant rapport with the Audi brand where he claimed the 1996 Italian Touring Car Championship in an Audi A4 Quattro.
Capello was part of the very first Audi at Le Mans experience in 1999 where he took third position with fellow Italian legend Michele Alboreto and Laurent Aiello.
That started a 14 year competitive association with Audi Sport that included some remarkable success, including victory at the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours in one of the greatest races ever seen at La Sarthe.
That made it three wins at Le Mans for Capello after he took the winners trophy in 2003 with Bentley and the following year in the Team Goh entered R8.
Le Mans was only a part of Dindo’s success though. He also claimed a remarkable six wins at Sebring in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.
That was the year that he and Romain Dumas competed in the first three WEC races, and although Capello’s footprint in WEC is relatively modest, his career credentials in endurance racing making him a titan of the sport.
Already a very well-known figure from his 14 year career in Formula One, Giancarlo Fisichella has now remarkably almost as much experience as a sportscar driver, a discipline of racing he absolutely adores.
His first foray in to sportscars came in the Le Mans Series in 2010 and he tasted instant success with wins at Petit Le Mans and taking the LMS title along with fellow Italian sportscar grande pilot Gimmi Bruni.
The Roman was instantly quick and consistent in the Ferrari 458 GT2 car which he competed in the early years of the WEC, but despite notable successes such as Le Mans in 2012 and Interlagos and Spa in 2013 a title eluded him.
Fiscichella switched to the LMGTE Am category in 2018 first with Spirit of Race and then AF Corse. He formed a special bond with Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci and still lit up the timing screens.
He continues in the WEC for 2022 with the Iron Lynx squad where he shares a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo with fellow Italians Matteo Cressoni and Claudio Schiavoni.
Polite and popular Davide Rigon exudes a chilled approached to life but his driving in the cockpit of a WEC LMGTE Pro car was one of the most thrilling experiences for several seasons.
From Vicenza in Northern Italy, Rigon looked destined for Formula One after a stellar junior career witnessed him winning the Euroseries 3000 and twice the Superleague Formula titles before he was 23 years old.
But although he tested a Ferrari F1 car and was an official sim driver for several seasons, it was in endurance racing where he really shone.
This began in 2012 in the Blancpain Endurance Series but by 2013 he was making headlines in the WEC with a stand-out performance in an 8 Star Motorsport entered Ferrari at the 6 Hours of Shanghai where he spearheaded a class win.
That ensured he got a factory AF Corse Ferrari promotion for 2014 and he was an instant success, especially in partnership with Sam Bird. The pair took wins at Silverstone and Spa in 2016 and looked set for a title bid but were piped to the post by Aston Martin’s Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen.
Rigon is still a popular member of the Ferrari driver roster to this day and recently took third place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco.
Alessandro Pier Guidi
Pier Guidi is that rare thing in endurance racing as his career is almost entirely based in GT competition. Although he raced sporadically in the A1 GP series and Superleague Formula, 99% of his career has been at the wheel of GT cars.
His first big success came in the 2005 Italian GT championship, but it was almost a decade later that he was able to make his way in to the WEC paddock where he raced initially in the LMGTE Am category with Alexander Talkanitsa and Jeff Segal.
Those performances and others in GT3 competition helped Pier Guidi, who is from Tortona in the north-west of his homeland, attracted the attention of the AF Corse factory team and in 2016 he was promoted to a full-time role with James Calado.
It sparked a period of great success that has included two Le Mans victories in 2019 and 2021, as well WEC LMGTE Pro title triumphs in 2017 and 2021.
All of this was achieved with teammates James Calado in WEC and Daniel Serra and Come Ledoger at Le Mans.
Pier Guidi’s pace and consistency has rightly gained him the reputation as one of the world’s best all-round endurance racing drivers.