Il Bollo d’Oro: Gian Luca Bardelli, Jaguar’s tamer (2024)

Il Bollo d’Oro: Gian Luca Bardelli, Jaguar’s tamer (5)


  • 31.05.24

Certain life stories are inextricably linked to races and the vehicles that compete in them. We are fortunate enough to be able to tell several fascinating, intriguing, and distinctive ones in "Il Bollo d'Oro." No two paths in life are the same, but the passion driving it forward step by step is the same: the sports car.

May 31, 2024: Gian Luca Bardelli drives the GT Veloce 2000 number 44 for the Irpinia North West Jolly team in the Alfa Revival Cup 2024 championship. Born in Rome in 1962, Gian Luca continues the family business founded by his father, Gianfranco, who began a successful business in Rome in the late 1950s selling, repairing, and preparing Alfa Romeo and Jaguar vehicles. Later, the firm expanded to De Tomaso and Land Rover. The Pantera Group 4, the chassis with the most victories to date, is one of Gianfranco Bardelli’s most significant preparations.

I understand that you started your racing career at the wheel of a gorgeous Coventry GT?

“Of course, it was 1980, and I had my baptism of fire driving a Jaguar E-Type 4.2 OTS (open two-seater, or spider) in the uphill Hilton Classic Car Cup time trial.” I won and took first place again in the race in 1981. In 1988, I persuaded my father to prepare an XK140 to compete in rallies like the Targa Florio, Cup of the Alps with Stefano Alberti as navigator, Sanremo Flower Cup, and Rome Rally. In the same year, I also acquired a white Jaguar E-Type Coupe 3.8 Racing that had been prepared in our workshop. I love that vehicle.”

So, do we call it a hobby or a real profession?

“Racing cars is a hobby for me. I have won many races in E-Type racing, but the race that means the most to me is the 1991 Imola Grand Prix Historique, which took place over the Formula 1 weekend. Driving my E-Type Cooper in the never-ending rain, I was able to compete, without a driver change, against cars like the Ford GT40, Iso Rivolta, Ford Mustang Shelby, AC Cobra, Alfa TZ, Cooper and the Lister Jaguar, driven by racing legends like Clay Regazzoni, Patrick Tambay, David Piper in the Ferrari P2 and Mario Casoni in the Ferrari 275 Le Mans. I arrived first overall at the finish line after a gruelling hour. That particular race significantly influenced the resurgence of interest in “revival” racing.

I then moved on to another British motoring legend: the Austin Cooper, thanks to a report to Roberto Causo, chairperson of the historic cars sub-committee. Compact and incredibly fast, the Cooper S was a true beast in the 970, 1071, and 1275 displacements. I made a name for myself in the Italian championship with all three variants.”

After a long romance with sports cars on the other side of the pond, you have come to the blue serpent touring cars…

“That’s correct, but let me start by saying that I haven’t competed in racing for 20 long years. Pietro Silva and Marco Milla will be joining me in 2023 for the Vallelunga 300km and the GT Veloce 2000 race in Misano. Alfa Romeo is also part of my history and that of my family. Because so many drivers in the 1960s and 1970s started their careers behind the wheel of sports cars bearing the green four-leaf clover, touring cars are extremely valuable historical vehicles.”

And at last, you arrived at the Alfa Revival Cup…

“I must express my gratitude to Fausto Amendolagine for sending me to compete in this unique championship, where a formidable atmosphere is fueled by both many young people and seasoned, well-known racers. I’m excited to see the younger people because more needs to be done to introduce the twenty- to thirty-year-old generation to the world of historic vehicles.

Fausto and I share a fantastic GT Veloce 2000 from 1974. I like to get involved and contribute my experience.”

What does racing mean? What does it feel like?

“First of all, it is a grand passion. My favourite part is always the start; it pumps me up.”

How are you preparing for the 2024 championship?

“I drove the GT Veloce 2000 for the first time under the Vallelunga downpour. It was a thrilling first encounter, but I already knew the car and its dynamics.”

What goals have you set for yourself this season?

“Fausto and I got off to a great start, winning our class and placing first. I’ll compete in more international races alongside my dear friend Pietro Silva.”

One last question: what is the main distinction you see between the GT Veloce 2000 and the Jaguar E-Type Racing on the racecourse?

“The size of the body and the engine power alone make racing a Jaguar a unique experience. Because the Alfa’s chassis is more compact and has less horsepower under its bonnet, you can push it to the limit with greater assurance.”



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