Martini Racing is the name under which various motor racing teams raced when sponsored by the Martini & Rossi distillery that produces Martini vermouth. Martini's sponsorship program began in 1968. The race cars are marked with the distinctive dark blue, light blue and red stripes on (most often) white or silver cars.
Sports car racing
Martini's first sponsorship program happened at the 12 hours of Sebring in 1962 with an Alfa Romeo SZ Tronica. Later in a minor event at the Hockenheimring in 1968. Martini Racing was then formed to enter two Porsche 907 in several sports car races in 1969 to back up the factory effort.
During the 1970s, Martini became famous in connection with Porsche in motorsport, sponsoring the works Porsche 917 that won the 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans. After a one-year hiatus in 1972, as Porsche retired from the WC championship as its 917, Martini and Porsche renewed their ties in the 1973 season, sponsoring the 911 Carrera RS that won the Targa Florio in surprise. The Martini Porsche cars won Le Mans once more in 1976 and 1977 with Porsche 936, as well as in many other events in the 1970s for the factory Porsche team, with the RSR Turbo, 935 and 936. In 1978, Martini only sponsored the works team in Le Mans, while in 1980 they were associated with Joest Racing, once more only at Le Mans.
In 1981, Martini Racing supported the Italian Lancia effort in sports car racing with the Group 5 Lancia Monte Carlo, Group 6 Lancia LC1 and Group C Lancia LC2. The works Lancia Martini drivers lineup included several contemporary Formula One racers, including Michele Alboreto, Teo Fabi and Riccardo Patrese. The association lasted until the 1986 24 Hours of Le Mans, but by then, Lancia was more involved with rallying.
Martini returned full-time in 1975, sponsoring Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team. The initial colour scheme incorporated the Martini colours on a white background on the Cosworth powered Brabham BT44B in 1975. The Alfa Romeo flat-V12 powered Brabham BT45 and Brabham BT45B were used for the 1976 and 1977 seasons and the Martini colours appeared on a red rosso corsa background. Drivers such as Carlos Reutemann, Carlos Pace, Hans-Joachim Stuck and John Watson all drove for the team during this time.
For the 1979 season, the Martini sponsorship moved to Team Lotus. In spite of having the 1978 championship winning Lotus 79 and Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann as drivers, the Martini Lotus association did not achieve a single win and by the end of the year, Martini withdrew from F1 once more.
Martini's first rally challenge was taken up by usual stalwart Porsche. In 1978, Porsche made a return to the World Rally Championship as a works team, running a 911 SC for Björn Waldegård and Vic Preston Jr. in the Safari Rally. The project did not continue past this one-off entry, where Preston was 2nd and Waldegård 4th.
In 1982, just as they had done one year previously with sports cars, Martini Racing signed with the works Lancia team, sponsoring the brand new Group B Lancia 037, with Attilio Bettega and Markku Alen as drivers. The Lancia Martini partnership in the World Rally Championship was one of the company's longest, remaining until the end of the 1992 season, with several cars, including the Group B Delta S4 and Group A Delta Integrale winning events and titles with drivers such as Juha Kankkunen, Bruno Saby, Massimo Biasion and Didier Auriol. The Martini Lancia cars won the WRC Drivers' title in 1987 and 1991 with Kankkunen, and 1988 and 1989 with Biasion, as well as the Constructors' title with the 037 in 1983, and consecutively with the Group A Delta from 1987 to 1992.
In the following years, Martini returned with a smaller sponsorship program, restricted to the Italian Rally Championship, which the Martini Racing driver, Gianfranco Cunico, won from 1994 to 1996 with a Jolly Club Ford Escort Cosworth. Martini returned to the WRC full-time for the 1999 season onwards with Ford Motor Company's M-Sport-run World Rally Team. With drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae and Markko Märtin, the Martini-liveried Fords won several rallies, but never the title. This arrangement ceased at the end of 2002.
Touring car racing
It wouldn't be until 1992 that Martini Racing would by seriously involved with touring car racing. The Italian company sponsored the works Alfa Romeo 155 in the Italian Touring Car Championship, which the team dominated, with Nicola Larini taking the championship title.
This served as an appetizer to a bigger prize, most specifically the DTM, the German-based touring car series, although the Martini Alfa Romeo connection only materialized in 1995, and by then the Alfas, driven by Larini and Alessandro Nannini, both ex-F1 drivers, weren't as competitive.
Starting in 1973, Martini Racing sponsored Carlo Bonomi and Cesare Fiorio's boats in the Powerboat World Championship, winning back-to-back championships in 1975 and 1976. A return in 1980 saw the Martini squad take the European title with Guido Niccolai. In 1982, its debut year, defending champion Renato Molinari missed the F1 Powerboat World Championship title by a single point, but won the following two seasons.
- Tecno Cars on www.allf1.info
- Martini Racing 1972 : Tecno : The Formula One Database
- "Martini Racing 1973 : Tecno : The Formula One Database". F1db.com. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
- Martini Racing 1975 : Brabham : The Formula One Database
- Brabham Racing on www.allf1.info
- "Martini Racing 1976 : Brabham : The Formula One Database". F1db.com. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
- "Martini Racing 1977 : Brabham : The Formula One Database". F1db.com. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
- "Martini Racing Team Lotus 1979 : The Formula One Database". F1db.com. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
- Ferrari confirms Martini, Grandprix.com, 2006-01-23
- Lancia 037 Rally - 1982 season on QV500.com
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