Tatuus iMagazine - page 4

hirty years of racing, adventures and
success. From Formula Monza to
Formula Renault 2000, from
Formula Ford to the new challenges
in the world of prototypes. Tatuus
Racing was founded by Artico
Sandonà and Gianfranco De Bellis in 1980 and has
built an international reputation in motorsports
based on passion, efficiency and the ability to
provide top‐quality products at competitive
prices, together italian, or more specifically,
Lombardian business flair.
«Tatuus was born in the 1980s as a consequence
of my partner Artico Sandonà’s passion for racing
and Formula Monza in particular», explains
Gianfranco De Bellis from his office in
Concorezzo, in the province of Monza. «His
father had a carprentry firm, but it was there that
he built his first racing cars. As a driver I was also
involved in Formula Monza; when I retired from
racing it was our shared passion that brought us
For those who don’t know, the name Tatuus
comes from “Tato”, which was how Artico
Sandonà’s family called him when he was little.
And this is reflected in the love and care that has
been lavished on Tatuus Racing over the years.
«I attended the scuola federale di pilotaggio
(federal driving school) in 1982 and now, many
years later, we’re responsible for their cars»,
recounts De Bellis. «I had to take the train to get
to the course because I hadn’t a car at the time, I
even used to cycle to the races at Monza: but
those were different times. One of the instructors
was Alberto Colombo, the owner of the historic
Sanremo Racing team. He noticed my
enthusiasm, that I was good in looking for
sponsors, and offered me a job as team manager.
It was a dream come true. When Alberto retired
from racing, I created a company providing teams
with a complete range of services such as printed
postcards, photographs, stickers and hospitality,
together with another youngster from Monza
who followed Formula Monza as a photographer,
and who is unfortunately no longer with us.
During my stay at Sanremo Racing I realized that
was the kind of service teams could benefit from.
A few years later we entered into a partnership
with Sandonà, who was looking for someone to
contribute to the development of his team, and
not long after I found myself in sole possession of
50 per cent of the company».
The turning point came at the beginning of the
1990s, thanks to an opportunity provided by
«At the end of 1994, Renault put forward a
proposal for a new championship based on cars
with a tubular chassis, a new engine and gear‐box.
Since the competition was open to all‐comers, I
contacted them. It was immediately apparent that
it represented a golden opportunity for the
European market. We would be competing
against some of the top manufacturers, so it was
the perfect chance to see if we were up to the
«At that time Dallara was just starting to take the
fight to the British teams ‐ continues De Bellis –
the biggest names were Van Diemen, Swift and
Martini from France. The first year we showed up
with 3/4 cars, making very little headway: the
teams weren’t interested in buying our models.
However we learned to appreciate just how much
effort Renault Sport was putting in to promote
the sport. They gave us a real break because, after
seeing our project, they bought the first car.
Rather than cash, they paid us with 3/4 kits which
were worth about 60 million Lire at the time».
This was just what we needed but once again it
was business skills – courage, professionalism, and
love for innovation – together with our passion
for racing, that were instrumental in converting
this opportunity into success. «That’s how it all
started», continues De Bellis. «We had a slice of
good luck, which is always important, but also the
courage to do something different from the other
manufacturers. That car was a great success. The
first year we achieved 6 pole positions in 10 starts
in the European championship. The car was
plagued by electrical problems but we won all 4
races that we managed to finish».
And in 1996 we received 35 orders. «At that time
there was the European championship, the
British, German and Spanish one: and we won
them all. The following 5 years we won 4
European, 4 British, 4 German, 2 Spanish and one
French championship. In ‘98‐’99, 70 per cent of
the teams were using our cars. We built over 100
cars, and we were always present in order to
provide teams with spare parts during the race
meetings. We offered a different type of service,
organising tests during the winter and sharing the
costs. We decided to share our information with
Gianfranco De Bellis and Artico “Tato” Sandonà
Domenico Porfiri (Renault Italia) and Gianfranco De Bellis
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