Augusta (Siracusa), 18 February 1958 Season: 1996 GP run: 3 (6) Best result in a race: 10° (GP Ungheria 1996) Points scored: 0
Earl Giovanni Lavaggi is undoubtedly a true gentleman and a good driver too, but, please, do not call him “gentleman-driver” because his approach to motorsport has always been that of a real professional. He started racing quite late when he was already 26 years old, motivated by Henry Morrogh who, in 1983, named him best student of the year and defined Giovanni “the best student he had ever had” at his racing school. The first complete racing year for him was 1984 when he took part in the Italian “Formula Panda” championship as official driver of the constructor Ermolli. He finished second in the championship, winning more races than any other driver.
The following years, he had no sufficient budget to participate in a complete F3 championship. He could only afford to do a few selected races in this category before turning to “Group C” sports cars, in order to gain experience in an international field. Soon he became a driver of Porsche Kremer Team, sensibly contributing to the latest great successes of this prestigious team. The Sicilian nobleman was the 1993 Interserie European Champion, winning 6 out of 12 races and going on the podium in 4 of the remaining 6 races. On American soil, he also won the iconic 24 Hours of Daytona, (the first Italian after Lorenzo Bandini, victorious in 1967); Lavaggi owes much of the credit for this success, having driven 9 hours instead of 6, since 4 drivers (Lavaggi-Bouchut-Werner-Lässig) were sharing the car. In the same year he made his debut in the F1 championship; actually, being a mechanical engineer, he had already a first contact with the F1 circus in 1992, as test driver for March F1 team. At the steering wheel of the mediocre Lotus-Pacific, in 1995, he participated in four races, never managing to cross the finishing line because of the repetitive gearbox problems on that car.
In 1996, with Minardi, he took part in 6 races (Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Japan) reaching the finish line twice. Lavaggi gave a valuable contribution to the team with the 10th place in Budapest, the second best result of the season for the team and with his advices for the development of automated gearbox management strategies. At the end of the season, he gave another satisfaction to the team at the Bologna motorshow. On a track where the 200 HP gap of the engines used on our cars had a lower impact, Giovanni finished second losing the final by a nose against Fisichella on Benetton and beating competitors like Trulli on Benetton, Panis and Nakano on Ligier and our Marques who was driving the twin Minardi.
After quitting F1, from 1998 to 2009, Lavaggi competed, with his own team, in the FIA sport prototypes championship and in the Le Mans Series. The Scuderia Lavaggi first managed a Ferrari 333 sp by which it conquered 2 victories, 5 podiums and 2 pole positions. Lavaggi installed a Judd engine on the car and won the prestigious 1000 Km of Monza. That was an epic race where Giovanni drove the car for five hours out of six to make up for the 5 laps lost at the beginning due to a throttle problem.
Since 2006 Giovanni Lavaggi has become, in fact, the only driver-constructor of modern era of motorsport, having designed, built and driven in races a sport-prototype of the LMP1 category. With the “Lavaggi LS1”, he participated in selected Le Mans Series races until 2009, and he also took the pole position at the 6h of Vallelunga in 2008.