INTERVIEW. Meet the Gostners and MP Racing

News | October 20, 2020

This Italian family makes its 24H SERIES debut this weekend at Monza. But what can we expect from MP Racing, and Thomas, David, Manuela and Corinna Gostner? According to their teammate Giorgio Sernagiotto, quite a lot.

That the Goster family is making its collective 24H SERIES debut at the wheel of anything other than a Ferrari could be considered a shock itself. For one thing, the Italian family’s debut is at Monza, the closest you’ll get to Ferrari’s heartland outside Maranello. For another, Thomas, David, Corinna, and Manuela Gostner each made their respective motorsport debuts at the wheel of either the Ferrari 458 Challenge or its ‘Evo’ successor. On top of that, each is an experienced competitor in the one-make Ferrari Challenge, while David is a former class champion. To say Ferrari has been a significant chapter in the Gostner family’s life would be something of an understatement.

 

But no. This Friday, the quartet – plus Italian teammate / LMP2-class World Endurance Championship contender Giorgio Sernagiotto – will instead compete at the inaugural Hankook 12H MONZA with a Mercedes-AMG GT3. Power provided not by the operatic, mid-ship 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 they’re all so used to by this point, but by a German-built, naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 mounted over the front axle.

 

Not that this seems to have dampened the quintet’s enthusiasm in any way, apparently…

 

“This is for sure going to be a great new adventure,” Giorgio explains to CREVENTIC on behalf of his MP Racing teammates. “After so many years doing Sprint Races with the Ferrari Challenge car, we wanted try a car with a little more performance, and give endurance racing a go as a team. It’s going to be quite a new situation to manage.

 

“There will be compromises – sharing driver time, sharing the cockpit, race setup – and endurance is a totally different approach to sprint racing. But endurance motorsport has fascinated us for a long time. Taking our first steps into this new world, and with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, will be totally awesome. We can’t wait to start!”

That the aforementioned AMG will also be run by MP Racing in Monza is another big confidence booster for the Gostners and Giorgio. Owned by Massimo Pepe, whose own links with Ferrari date back to 1982, MP Racing has been in operation since 2007, and a staple of the Ferrari Challenge since 1993, shepherding the Gostners, and others, to multiple race wins and podium finishes over the years. Turns out the Italian team owner is a dab hand behind the wheel too, with entries on the Paris-Dakar and the Rallye des Pharaons among other rally-raid events.

 

 Terra firma for the 24H SERIES debutants then, certainly.

 

“MP Racing relies on highly-specialized and expert resources in the preparation and management of its racing cars,” Giorgio continues. “That kind of commitment builds a strong bond between drivers and technicians, creates an excellent atmosphere, and gives us all a common goal at MP Racing to achieve the best results we can. And that’s not just in the 24H SERIES. We won’t be neglecting this year’s Ferrari Challenge Europa, where MP Racing will be competing with three cars once again.”

Regardless of the machinery at their disposal of course, the Gostner family has more than enough miles of GT racing under their collective belts heading into Monza. Thomas, father of the group and owner of the largest clean energy companies in Italy, even made his motor racing debut at the Autodromo in 2011 at the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Challenge, not long after purchasing his own Ferrari 458 Italia road car. An impressive showing saw Thomas finish 8th first time of asking, one place behind son, David. Who was also making a long-awaited motorsport debut that weekend.

 

“David has always been very passionate about motorsport. When we was younger, he proved to be quite quick in go-karts, and one day, he told his dad that they should do some ‘time attack races’ together. They did quite well, and later, Massimo Pepe said to Thomas, ‘if you’d like to do more racing, I think the Ferrari Challenge could be a great series for you to learn and enjoy.’ They haven’t looked back since.”

 

In the years since his debut, Thomas, who has also competed in the World Gliding Championship with the national Italian team, has collected close to a dozen podium spots, and secured his maiden Ferrari Challenge win last season in the Coppa Shell category for gentlemen drivers. David’s time in the Ferrari Challenge meanwhile has proven slightly more lucrative: heading into 2020, the Bolzano native already had more than 40 series wins to his name and was crowned Coppa Shell-class champion in 2013. A title that inspired both his father and, the following year, his elder sisters.

 

“David is the heart of our team with a fantastic natural sensibility for driving. He is a great fighter and really drives with all his might: his favourite saying is ‘go hard or go home’.”

One year after David’s championship success, Manuela and Corinna Gostner were donning their race suits for the first time on-track at Brno 2014, deputizing for their father and brother, both of whom were unavailable that weekend due to work commitments. A few tests with the Ferrari Corsi Pilota were all it took to secure the necessary race licenses and for the motorsport ‘itch’ to take hold. Just under a year later, all four Gostner family members were on the grid for the 2015 Ferrari 458 Challenge season opener.

 

Has competition affected their familial bond? Hardly. Throughout their Corse Clienti pilgrimage after all, each of their helmets featured the identical design, differentiated only by their colour schemes: green and white for Manuela; fuchsia and black for Corinna; orange and black for Thomas; and red and…well, red for David. It could even be argued that this same bond is what put CREVENTIC on the Gostners’ radar to begin with, and why, despite the level of competition MP Racing will be facing in the GT3 category on its series debut, the team is not downplaying its chances at Monza.

 

“We are all amateur drivers, and although we enjoy competing against each other, we really wanted to compete with each other too, at 12 and maybe even 24-hour races in the future. That’s when we spoke about the 24H SERIES for the first time. It was clear this could be a great new championship for our new Mercedes-AMG GT3 and was going to be a new fantastic playground for us.

 

“Especially at Monza. The Autodromo is one of the most historic race tracks in the world, and you can feel the mythic atmosphere immediately when you come to ‘the temple of speed’. A podium in our first race would be a dream come true. Doing so at Monza would make us all super, super proud!”

There is of course one question left on the table: which of them is faster?

 

It’s a fair question, right? Like her younger brother, it didn’t take Manuela too long, for instance, to get up to speed with GT racing. By 2018, she’d collected class wins and finished 3rd in both the Coppa Shell and the GT4 European Series Cup-Am class, the latter of which was at the wheel of a Villorba Corse Maserati Gran Turismo MC GT4. Endurance racing fans may be familiar with Manuela’s assault on the European Le Mans Series in 2019 too as part of the all-female ‘Iron Dames’ driver line-up for Kessel Racing. A program that also included her first start at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Alongside Michelle Gatting and Rahal Frey, Manuela Gostner became only the third Italian woman in the event’s 97-year history to compete at Le Mans after Anna Cambiaghi (‘77) and Lella Lombardi (’75, ’76, ’77, and ’80). Doing so, admittedly, with a brand new helmet design…

 

Who better though to tell us which member of the Gostner family will be quickest at Monza this weekend than their teammate, Giorgio Sernagiotto? A driver with a litany of endurance racing experiences already under his belt (the San Marco native already has three Le Mans starts to his name) and who, crucially, is still the family’s driver coach. Finding out which of the four is quickest should be a cake walk. Or so we thought…

 

“That is THE question. You’re just going to have to follow MP Racing at Monza to find out!”

 

*Our thanks to Giorgio Sernagiotto, who was speaking with James Gent ahead of this year's inaugural Hankook 12H MONZA. On it's 24H SERIES debut, MP Racing (#58) finished 4th overall.

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