PEOPLE: ENZO COLONI

Name: Enzo Coloni
Nationality: Italy

Enzo Coloni

Enzo Coloni 

 © Inside F1, Inc.

A late-starter in motor racing, Coloni was 30 by the time he reached Formula 1 in 1976, driving an outdated March-Fiat 743. It was not until 1981 that he became a serious contender for the Italian Championship with a March 813 and in 1982 switching to the new Ralt RT3 to win the title.

Coloni then decided to retire and set up his own racing team, Enzo Coloni Racing Car Systems. He found support from Gulf and Diavia and ran a Ralt for rising star Ivan Capelli. Capelli won nine of the 13 Italian races to dominate the championship and in 1943 moved to the European Championship with a Martini-Alfa Romeo MK45. The team started the year with an unsponsored car but picked up Marlboro backing and Capelli won at Magny-Cours and La Chatre. At Monza, however, the team was caught using an illegal airbox. Capelli went on to win at Enna and Mugello to prove that he could win with a legal car, while in the Italian series Coloni ran Alessandro Santin to four victories and the Italian F3 title - the team's third consecutive national title.

In 1985 Alex Caffi raced for Coloni and just missed the Italian Championship. The following year Coloni entered Formula 3000 with a March 85B for Gabriele Tarquini, expanding to two cars later in the season, the second being run for a variety of different drivers including Nicola Larini, who gave the team its fourth Italian F3 title that year.

In 1987 Coloni decided to enter F1 and a lemon-yellow Coloni-FC187 was built to the design of former Dallara designer Roberto Ori. This was fitted with a Cosworth DFZ engine and Larini appeared for the first time at the Italian GP, where he failed to qualify. At Jerez he made the field but retired with suspension problems after just eight laps.

The team reappeared in 1988 with Tarquini as the driver. The FC188 was not very competitive and often failed to pre-qualify, Tarquini's best result being eighth at the Canadian GP.

In August 1988 Coloni stunned AGS by hiring the three principal figures in the French team: designer Christian Vanderpleyn, research & development engineer Michel Costa and team manager Frederic Dhainhaut. Roberto Moreno and Pierre-Henri Raphanel were signed to drive and Vanderpleyn designed the Coloni C3. This was late arriving but both Raphanel and Moreno qualified at Monaco, although both retired in the race. Moreno went on to qualify for a further three events but retired from all of them, while Raphanel quit the team after Hungary and was replaced by Enrico Bertaggia. Neither driver managed to pre-qualify the car again and the ex-AGS staff all departed.

At the end of the season Coloni sold the team to Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru and it was announced that the Japanese car maker was planning to enter F1 with a 12-cylinder boxer engine produced by Motori Moderni.

Coloni stayed on as Vice-President under President Yoshio Takaoka, a longtime Subaru rally driver. The team was managed by Alvise Morin. Bertrand Gachot was signed to drive and engineer Paul Burgess recruited to oversee his car.

The Subaru engine was, however, a disaster and in May Coloni quit his own team. Burgess set about trying to design a new car and Vanderpleyn was convinced to rejoin but in July Subaru withdrew, sold the whole team back to Coloni and pulled out. The team fitted Cosworth engines but the C3B was not competitive and Gachot never raced the car, despite many feats of bravery in qualifying.

In the autumn Coloni tested British Formula 3000 Champion Pedro Chaves from Portugal, who had a budget for 1991 from the Mateus wine company. The C4 was a reworked version of the previous cars and was uncompetitive and Chaves failed to qualify for a single race. In September Coloni sold the team to Andrea Sassetti and pulled out of F1.

Coloni went back to Italian Formula 3 and then returned to Formula 3000. In 1998 he won the contract to build cars for the new Open Fortuna championship in Spain and produced the Fortuna-Coloni CN1/98, designed by Enrique Scalabroni. Coloni Racing is now one of the top Fomrula 3000 teams.

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