Tatuus iMagazine - page 10

by Stefano Semeraro
Many talk about emerging markets. You’ve
been in one of them for years. What is the
current state of the art of motorsport in
China and in the far East?
«Motorsport in China has the same kind of
development experienced in the road car
market, although with some delay. The numbers
are growing consistently but they are still very
small compared to Europe, Japan and the
United States. Fifteen years ago, nobody could
afford to buy a car in China, but now the raise in
sales made the country the world’s first market.
There is an additional note that is not usually
perceived abroad. We are still talking about the
purchase of family’s first cars. The growth of the
market is based on the first car of the family and
only a few people can afford a second car. In my
opinion, is the second car that help generate the
interest for tuning and motorsport. The “second
car” becomes the one people show to friends,
tune or bring on‐track. This is the current
picture of China. The percentage of people who
got close to motorsport to practice it or just for
their passion is limited. Every year, Chinese
motorsport grows by two digits but the number
of people practicing it is in the order of
hundreds. Anyway, the outlook is encouraging».
What are the structures and teams that
Chinese motorsport can rely on?
«China has four grade 2 circuits and one grade 1
track (Shanghai). Except Shanghai, the other
tracks are in precarious maintenance conditions.
We have to say that most of the tracks were
built more for real estate speculation reasons
than for a real sport program. Despite the
current state of the infrastructures, the tracks,
especially the ones in the most important
locations, are busy for most part of the year
because of the events run by the car
manufacturers: driving experiences, driving
courses, presentations. That shows the interest
of the big car brands towards a fast‐growing
market where it’s really important to show the
product and let it test by the potential buyers.
The racing teams are getting established now
but let’s say that the level is pretty low. The
most important structures are managed by
foreign personnel that make their experience
worth in a field which is too new for the
Chinese. Most of the teams are located near the
tracks. Given its location close to Macau and
Hong Kong, Zhuhai is the first are to undergo a
development related to motor racing. Shanghai
and Beijing are the most recent additions to the
racing panorama where motorsport is mostly
tied to tuning».
Why did you decide to work in China?
«The decision to move to China has basically
been a bet. After having worked for about 10
years for Prema PowerTeam I was looking
forward to a different experience compared to
the usual opportunities that European teams
could provide. The fact that my wife is Chinese
has definitely been an assist for the decision but
if it was for her, we wouldn’t have moved away
from Italy. Together with her, I started to get
some contacts in Chinese motorsport and
helped a driver from Shanghai to compete in
Europe in the 2004 Formula Renault series.
After that, I accepted a proposal from a local
group that offered me to work and create a
motorsport promotion plan with track activity
and the formation of a team. That’s how
everything started…».
“I placed my bet
After more than 10 years as a Team Manager and engineer for
Prema Powerteam and in European racing in general,
Davide De Gobbi decided eight years ago to follow in the footsteps
of Marco Polo and start exploring China. Through Top Speed he
now covers several roles including the one as a promoter for the
Formula Masters series that runs Tatuus cars. We asked him to tell
us how the adventure started and how is developing in a relatively
young motorsport environment, but also a really promising one
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