Italians Bring Endurance Racing Passion to the SunTrust MOTO-ST DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 26, 2008) -- Italian racers Federico Mannheimer and Fabrizio Guerra will travel the world to find a good endurance racing series, and that passion has...
Italians Bring Endurance Racing Passion to the SunTrust MOTO-ST
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 26, 2008) -- Italian racers Federico Mannheimer and Fabrizio Guerra will travel the world to find a good endurance racing series, and that passion has brought them to North America and the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series.
The pair will make their third appearance of the season in this weekend's Thunderbolt 500k at New Jersey Motorsport Park in Millville, N.J., riding the No. 89 Scuderia Mannheimer Gammacril Ducati 749 in the Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) class.
"We are endurance racers, and we have raced around Europe, and also in Japan," says the 45-year-old Guerra. "We always want to test our skills outside Europe."
Mannheimer and Guerra, both from Milan, made their SunTrust MOTO-ST Series debut in the third round of the series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. in June, where they finished 12th in the SST class after being stranded out on the course in the middle of the race.
They were forced to miss the following round at Barber Motorsport Park, as Guerra had a racing conflict in Italy, but the team was back at Heartland Park Topeka in mid-August, this time finishing fifth in SST despite a crash late in the race.
Mannheimer, 44, has been racing for 20 years while Guerra has been at it for 10. Their racing number, 89, is a combination of their ages. Mannheimer has an extensive resume of endurance and classic motorcycle racing appearances at such storied venues as Assen, Le Mans and Monza, with numerous victories and podium finishes to his credit.
The two racers are also both long time members of a motorcycle club in Milan, the Moto Club Porta Nuova. "Porta Nuova" translates as "New Door" and the club name is a reference to Milan's history as a walled city, with doors around the wall allowing visitors to enter and exit. Mannheimer is the president and Guerra the vice-president of the organization.
The club boasts 20-30 members, Guerra says, one of whom is Federico Aliverti. Aliverti teamed up with Giancarlo de Matteis to win the opening round of the 2007 SunTrust MOTO-ST Series at Daytona International Speedway. The pair rode an Aprilia Tuono 1000R entered by the Aprilia USA team, which went on to claim the SST Teams title last season.
Upon returning to Milan, Aliverti talked up the American series and Mannheimer and Guerra decided it was worth taking a look.
"We are Ducati fans," says Mannheimer, whose first race was on a Ducati back in 1989. "And we can race twins here."
The riders are also thrilled to be sharing the track with some famous names from motorcycle racing, such as former World Superbike and World Endurance champion Doug Polen and American dirt track legend Jay Springsteen.
"We have been racing for many years," Guerra says, "and in this series we are racing against some big names. We are very proud for that."
The Italian team is facing an uphill battle in this year's SunTrust MOTO-ST Series. They are racing a Ducati 749 rather than the newer 848, primarily because they realized too late that the 848 would be eligible for the series after they had already purchased the 749.
The portly Guerra also concedes, with a smile, that the SST class rules, which restrict the bikes to 120 horsepower, do not work in his favor.
"With my weight I need more horsepower," he laughs. "In Italy, I endurance race an MV Agusta with a lot more horsepower. Here, I do the best I can but it's not easy. But we are having fun, and that is the first issue."
And of course, both Road America and Heartland Park Topeka were new to the Italian pair, while the majority of their rivals had at least some experience of both tracks. That will not be a problem this weekend at New Jersey Motorsport Park, which is a brand new racing facility.
When not racing Guerra runs a company called Gammacril, which produces acrylic rods and tubing. Mannheimer is involved in the computer retail business in Milan.
Their American racing effort is looked after by Miami-based Otalora Racing, and they are also assisted by Ducati Miami, who run fellow Italian Dario Marchetti in a variety of regional race events.
Following this weekend's race in New Jersey Mannheimer and Gammacril will return to Italy before coming back here for the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series season finale, the traditional 8 Hours At Daytona on Oct. 18. While it will be Guerra's first experience of the legendary Daytona International Speedway, Mannheimer raced at the track in 1998, finishing sixth in the old Battle of the Twins AMA class.
The pair will bring some friends from the Moto Club Porta Nuova to the Daytona event, perhaps laying the groundwork for an even bigger Italian invasion of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series next year.