Tatuus iMagazine - page 6

teams and to offer our
set‐ups. It was an entirely
new approach that helped
a number of small teams
to take their first steps up
the ladder».
The most important step
– together with fair share
of anxious moments ‐
came with the birth of
Formula Renault 2000. «The price of the cars just
kept growing every year», explains De Bellis.
«Until Renault had the brilliant and brave idea
(thanks to Christian Contzen, Daniel Charles and
Domenico Porfiri of Renault Italia) of
inaugurating a single brand championship
featuring identical cars at an “impossible” price.
They convinced us not to worry about the initial
losses and promised us their support and the
guarantee of four championships. We were
requested to build 80 cars with no guaranteed
sales, at a price of 30 per cent less than the
previous year's model. Not only did we have to
keep costs to an absolute minimum but the
project was also to include the carbon frame,
approved by FIA in 2000, and a sequential‐
manual gear‐box that no one had ever used
before: it was adopted in Formula 3 in 2003, three
years later. Sandonà and I literally didn’t get any
sleep for months. The contract was highly
challenging and there were numerous penalties,
but we knew that Renault trusted in us».
A “skill” capable of overcoming even the most
unexpected difficulties.
«The bank had guaranteed
us a line of credit but
when the contract
changed, the banking
parameters changed with
it. We’d been with Renault
for 5 years, so we were
aware of the qualities of
the people we were
dealing with and we decided to throw ourselves
wholeheartedly into the venture. We presented
the body and the engine with Contzen, Charles
and Porfiri in June ‘99. We prepared a brochure
the night before using a series of drawings
because that was all we had: then, the following
week, the orders just
started flooding in, with
down‐payments that no
one had expected, not
even the teams
themselves. The question
on everyone’s lips was: if
the price of the car is
32,500 euro, how much
does the engine cost? And
the gear‐box? At that time,
cars based on tubular
chassis, with an 8 valve
engine, 5 speed H
configuration gear‐box, brakes and limited
aerodynamics were sold for around 95 million
Lire, equivalent to 47‐48 thousand euro today.
In the end it was necessary to postpone the first
race of the 2000 European championship because
we had too many orders and we just couldn’t
keep up. We ended up working night and day,
Saturdays and Sundays included. There were just
25 of us, plus the sub‐contractors we used to
assemble some of the parts, and we were forced
to assemble the bodies standing up as there was
so little space. But the the great success that is
Formula Renault 2000 was born. After 10 years
and two modification kits we had built over 900
cars. Some years the cars were involved in up to 13
different Formula Renault 2000 competitions all
over the world».
As I said, a success story started with a bet.
«In more recent times we have collaborated with
Renault on Formula
Renault 1600, Renault V6,
as well as the FC 106 with
Honda, Toyota and
Nissan for the Japan,
Formula Toyota, Formula
We can't thank enough
Renault because I'm not
sure I would have
entrusted such an
important project to a
company like ours if the
roles had been reversed.
It’s also true that we put everything we had, and
more, into the project. So part of the merit is ours
Gianfranco De Bellis and Giancarlo Minardi
Tatuus factory in Concorezzo
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