Real estate entrepreneur Roberto Pampanini is a self-confessed motorsport fanatic. More than a decade ago, the Italian (who interestingly was born in Zurich) threw both his and his company STIPA’s support behind Swiss Moto2 rider, and future Supersport World Champion, Randy Krummenacher, a young driver promotion program that continued with the creation of Nordstern Racing just over five years later. But Roberto is no stranger to the racing line himself. Alongside a two-year spell in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, he made his endurance racing debut in the 24H SERIES in 2015, has since taken class wins at the Red Bull Ring in 2017 and more recently at last year’s COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily, and even ventured Stateside for a one-off run at the Daytona 24 Hours in 2017.
Oh, and there’s a reason why the Porsches and Lamborghinis he races tend to be gold as well…
“My name is Roberto Pampanini.”
“Maybe I just forgot! No, that’s okay. I’m 53.”
“My first car race was at Hockenheim, about 13 years ago, and I was there in a Porsche Carrera Cup. That was pretty good!”
“Actually, in January, we went to Bahrain, and we did the Gulf 12 Hours, and we were lucky because we won [the GT3 PA class]. That was a special moment for me was special because I got to stand on the podium with Valentino Rossi! I’m never going to forget that.”
“It’s Spa-Francorchamps. It’s special because it’s so technical, especially Eau Rouge. Every time you pass through Eau Rouge, you think, ‘wow’! It’s a great feeling to get that right.”
“I remember one time at Le Castellet [Circuit Paul Ricard], during a race we had a double yellow flag. I looked in my rear mirror and my right rear wheel suddenly came off and passed me. I don’t know how these things happen but that was our race over. I still have the video!”
“There isn’t really any significance. I just love gold. Gold and black. So I always make sure I have those on my helmet. You can see that on the car as well! We usually get a lot of complements about that.”*
*Roberto’s most recent runs in the 24H SERIES have been aboard the gold and black DINAMIC Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3 R, Porsche 991-II Cup, and/or Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo. His time with the GRT Grasser Racing Team in 2018 was also aboard a Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
“I think I am a competitive man. I’m a gentleman [driver] but I want to win. So every time I sit in the car, I always give it my best. That’s how I like to race.”
“I know this can’t happen, but Steve McQueen! Le Mans is a great movie, and the track is so special. I drove there one time” – in 2019, Roberto competed in the Le Mans Cup with Scuderia Villorba Corse alongside fellow 24H SERIES stalwart, Mauro Calamia – “and it’s beautiful. The atmosphere for the 24 hours is really incredible.”
“I just wanted everyone to be safe while we’re racing. Sometimes, as a driver, you don’t realise just how fast you are going. I want to make sure I stay so I can get old and be a good grandpa.”
“[Pause]… actually, it’s good that the fans don’t see this, because sometimes I can get quite angry when I’m in the car. My hands go everywhere… hey, I’m Italian! I’m always emotional!”
“The 24H SERIES is nice because you get so much time in the car. But also, with 12 and 24-hour races, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve done the [Hankook] 24H DUBAI two or three times, and it is a very special event, but it isn’t easy. This year we had a problem with the [fuel] pump and we picked up damage at the back. We lost six laps just from that.” – Sadly gearbox failure ended DINAMIC MOTORSPORT’s race in Dubai with just 90 minutes left to run.
“Sometimes, the car ahead will have problems, and suddenly you’re at the front and you can win. Anything can happen in the 24H SERIES. I like that a lot.”
*Roberto Pampanini was speaking with Quinten Kentie and James Gent at the 2021 Hankook 24H DUBAI. Images courtesy of Petr Frýba.