Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi, BMS Scuderia Italia.
Matteo Bobbi and Thomas Biagi have driven their way into the record books this season, first of all by winning their first-ever race in the Championship, then by becoming the first duo to win five races in a row. With victories in Barcelona, Magny-Cours, Enna-Pergusa, Brno and Donington, they dominated the first part of the season. They have (provisionally) added a further win in Oschersleben to bring their tally up to six wins, and claimed the title in Estoril, when third place put them out of reach of the rest of the field.
Age : 25
Nationality : Italian
2002 : 2nd, Open Nissan 2000; Test driver, Minardi, Formula One
2000 -- 2001 : Open Telefonica by Nissan
Age : 27
Nationality : Italian
2001 : 2nd, Euro 3000 series
1996 -- 1998 : Formula 3000 Championship
How much did you know about the FIA GT Championship before the start of the season ?
MB: "Not that much, I must admit. We were both in single-seaters for many years, and drivers in that category tend to only know the single-seater world. I had sometimes read about it in the magazines, as the FIA GT Championship receives quite a lot of coverage. And then last year, I knew that Andrea Piccini was racing, and he is our friend, as we all raced together in single-seaters, so we knew more. At the end of the season, when we finished with single-seaters we all spoke together on the phone, and Thomas suggested that we should try to go into GT racing together. I thought -- why not, maybe for 2004, in the future, not now. But not even a month later, we had signed a contract. Life is quite strange, sometimes, as we changed direction quickly. And less than a year later, we've won the Championship. I have absolutely no regrets at leaving single-seaters -- this Championship is really good, very professional, and you can see that it is getting better and better every year."
TB: "I didn't really know much about the FIA GT Championship, but from the first test in Barcelona, I was really impressed, it was bigger and better than I had expected. I had good expectations, but I was surprised, by the level of the professionalism, the organisation, the press -- it has all been fantastic. The level is very nice I have also enjoyed working with the team, and with Michelin. We have worked closely together, which was a new experience for me, and one which I enjoyed a lot."
You obviously get on well together -- how important is that for team-mates ?
TB: "We have been good friends for a number of years. For me, one reason of our success, apart from the team, the tyres etc, is the very strong feelings we have for each other. I think that is very important for this sort of racing, and it makes us a better team. We have had no arguments at all.
MB: "We do not always have exactly the same ideas, we are professionals and accept each other's decisions. This is better for the whole team. If we had fights, it would be a big problem, as we all have to live together. But we have a good relationship with the whole team."
What have been your best and worst moments of the season ?
MB: "One of the best moment was Barcelona, when we won our first race. We knew that Piccini and Deletraz had won four races in 2002, and that it would be difficult to equal that. Then we arrived in Barcelona and we won -- it was fantastic. And then we went on to win the next one, and the next -- in total five races in a row -- it was fantastic. For me, the worst moment was Sweden. We lost a lost of points in Spa, and then we went to Anderstorp. The car was very fast, and I knew we had a good chance of victory, but after 100 metres, my race was over. It was not my fault, but it was not a good day. So after that, in Estoril, I really had a lot of pressure at the start, as if I went out again out at the start, it would have been bad for me."
TB: "Spa was the worst race for me. I had a big crash on the Friday, when the throttle broke and the pedal stayed down, and I went heavily into the barriers at the Raidillon. I was not feeling that good the next day. I had a good start, but we had many problems -- it was a really bad time. Also because we would have like to finish the 24-hour race, as it must be a fantastic experience. There is an unbelievable atmosphere during the event.
MB: "And I am sad that we did not even get to drive in the dark at Spa; we only did five hours. I really hope to repeat that experience. And we lost a lot of points as well. Every race has been good, but apart from Barcelona, I would have to mention Estoril, when we claimed the title. We have led throughout the season, and by the end the pressure was getting really bad. After Estoril, on the Sunday evening, we could relax. It would have been very bad to lose the lead at the end."
What does the title mean to you ?
TB: "This title means a lot to both of us. It has been many years since two Italian drivers have won a major title in a Ferrari. We are both Italian, we live near Maranello, and we won an FIA Championship with Ferrari in our first year, so It is also the first title for us, and to have won it in our first year, it is very important.
MB: "It means a lot to me. I have never won a title before, although we have both come close -- Thomas in 2001 in the European Formula 3000, me last year in Formula Nissan. It is not good for a driver to always be second. A result like this could change our career. Now people know about me, ask me to contact them.
And what about next year ?
MB: "It's now time to stop and think. I have some options. But I want to stay in the GT Championship and to defend my title."
TB: "I do not want to think about the future, I just want to enjoy the present. We have really enjoyed working with BMS Scuderia Italia, and we both want to thank the team, especially team manager Augusto Mensi and Tiziano Minuti.