FEBRUARY 26, 1996
FRANCO ROCCHI, who spent 25 years in a variety of roles with the Ferrari Competition Department, has died at the age of 72. Rocchi was one of Enzo Ferrari's inner circle of engineers and remained loyal to Ferrari through many upheavals, notably the defection of engineer Carlo Chiti and team manager Romolo Tavoni in 1961.
Rocchi was then responsible for nurturing the talented young Mauro Forghieri, and it was Forghieri and Rocchi who reworked the Ferrari 312 B3 in 1973 to build the foundation for Ferrari's success with Niki Lauda in the mid-1970s. Rocchi's engine designs won five Formula 1 World Championships and many other titles in sportscar racing.
He joined Ferrari in 1949, having previously worked alongside engineer Aurelio Lampredi at the Reggiane aircraft company. After Lampredi was ousted, Rocchi stayed on to work under Vittorio Jano and later Carlo Chiti. Rocchi suffered heart trouble and retired from Ferrari in 1979, although he remained a consultant until 1982 when he began studies to become an artist. He painted for the next six years, but in 1988 was lured back to racing by entrepreneur Ernesto Vita. The pair combined to form the Life Racing Engines F1 team, and Rocchi designed an unusual W12 engine. The complicated engine was never given the chance to be developed as the team was a complete disaster.
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