Giovanni Nappi, aged 16, wins the 2008 Pirelli Champions Cup
The 16 year-old Italian driver won the contest between young up-and-coming talent that was a highlight of the opening day of this year's Bologna Motor Show. Driving a Lotus Exige and Renault Clio, Nappi got the better of several other stars of the future in the worlds of rallying, circuit racing and motorbikes.
The accent is on youth at this year's Bologna Motor Show. It's a concept that is loyal to the philosophy behind the Pirelli Champions Cup, which saw drivers compete against each other at the wheel of Lotus Exiges supplied by the 2007 FIA WTCC Independents Cup winner Stefano d'Aste and Renault Clio R3s supplied by the well-known Munaretto Rally Team, equipped with Pirelli's commercially-available PZero asphalt tyres. The drivers doing battle were amongst the most promising young talents in circuit racing, rallying and motorbikes. It was an important opportunity that Pirelli was happy to give to no fewer than eight young drivers.
In the end, it was 16-year-old Giovanni Nappi from Naples who climbed onto the top step of the podium. The Italian made his single-seater debut this year in Italy's Formula Azzurra, ending his season with a win at the Adria circuit. Already he has shown himself capable of doing battle with the greatest emerging national talents. It is no coincidence that together with Edoardo Liberati and Andrea Cecchellero - who were also at the start of the Pirelli Champions Cup - Nappi has been selected for the Italian Motorsport Federation's SuperCorso. Cecchellero once more showed his class by qualifying for the final in the Pirelli Champions Cup and taking a well-deserved second place.
In third place was Jarkko Nikara (aged 22), who won this year's Pirelli Star Driver Shootout Europe, ahead of reigning Italian superbike champion Luca Scassa. Despite a strong showing, the other rally driver Stefano Albertini, reigning Formula Azzurra Champion Edoardo Liberati (aged 15), and bike racer Massimo Roccoli (who recently won the Italian Supersport 600 series) did not make it past the qualifying stages.
At the finish, Nappi said: "I would like to thank Pirelli and the Italian Federation, the CSAI, for giving me the opportunity to take part in this competition. To win at the Bologna Motor Show is fantastic. Apart from a problem in the final, before the second heat got underway, which meant that we had to switch cars, everything went really well."
This new challenge also impressed Jarkko Nikara. He said: "It's been a really interesting experience. I had never been to the Bologna Motor Show before and I am happy with my third place."
For bike rider Luca Scassa this was a brand new experience as well. "It was the first time that I had ever driven a racing car or taken part in the Bologna Motor Show," he said. "I really enjoyed myself, even though I took it carefully in order not to risk damaging the cars."