From this the customer racing department was created. The aim was to organise and establish an optimized car servicing department forrallying and give technical advice anywhere and at any time whilst reducing the inherent bureaucratic issues associated with racing.
Two teams; the Jolly Club from Milan, managed by Roberto Angiolini and the Gifrone team from Genova, managed by Luigi Tabaton, had cars and drivers competing in national and regional championships - often alongside the Lancia works team.
Having observed this, I suggested to my boss Cesar Fiorio, that we enrol only these two teams which had to date been limited tothe more minor championships and share our technical knowledge in order to make them as competitive as the official cars. We also offered them young promising racing drivers in order to create a talent pool for the works team.
The benefit was a lightened schedule for the racing department in their preparation for the World and European Championship and others which were important for the Lancia Market.
The Start of the program
In 1973 most of customers were still racing with the Fulvia. The works cars were transferred to Jolly Club, Grifone and Tre Gazzelle for customer racing. It was obviously necessary for our cars to be maintained by qualified mechanics; we therefore designated a small number of car preparers who had previously demonstrated their potential to Lancia.
Bosato, Facetti, Maglioli, Michelotto and University Motors were therefore brought up to speed with all od the developments and equipped with official spare parts.
We succeeded in our objective of beating the Renault Alpine on the various national championships thanks to the strong relationship built between teams, car preparers and the drivers.
Based upon this success I created a permanent rally car-servicing department in order to ensure that at any point, anywhere, there was a Lancia answer, often vital to the successful completion of the rally - as expected by the drivers, teams and myself.
The arrival of the Stratos for the teams and the large number of clients inevitably pushed us to improve on the organisational front of the car-servicing department.
For the Fulvia, the distribution of spare parts was only undertaken through the network of car dealerships. This led to two problems:
1) It was impractical for the dealers to stock spare parts for which there was little demand.
2) The warehousemen lacked knowledge - especially with regard to the minor parts.
As a result of these issues, Cesare and I decided to establish a warehouse of spare parts reserved solely for racing clients. This was directly linked to the competition department of Lancia and under the responsibility of Mr. Matera - an outstanding manager.
Another important decision was to equip a servicing van with spare parts and two mechanics. This support was present on all the important championship rounds, which greatly strengthened relationships with the car preparers. The system developed with great mutual satisfaction, vindicating the decision to implement an ‘open door’ policy and, allowing the car preparers to come to Lancia’s racing department whenever they wished and have nothing hidden from them. The result arrived quickly with a number of privately run cars Stratos were even more competitive than the official cars. The Lancia works team also benefitted from technical innovations initiated by the car preparers.
In 1976 Daniele Audetto left to the Scuderia Ferrari and I assumed his position as sporting director of Lancia’s racing division, whilst Giulio Pensi replaced me as director of customer racing.
The queen of rallies continued to win everything
Long live the King and Queen! (*)
(*) Team Lancia and Lancia Stratos