MAY 23rd 2015

Le Mans star Emanuele Pirro takes a turn in the Alfa Romeo T33/3

Emanuele Pirro always looks delighted to be on the guest list at Goodwood, and we are always delighted to see him anywhere! Especially here at the Spa Classic, where he’s driving an utterly droolworthy Alfa Romeo T33/3 that stops us in our tracks every time we pass it in the paddock.

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Powered by a 3.0-litre V8 making 400+ horsepower, we thought the little red 670kgs Italian rocketship must be thrilling to drive but – perhaps surprisingly – Emanuele (above right) says the engine is the opposite of ‘peaky’.

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‘I’ve driven an Alfa Romeo T33SC12 with the flat-twelve and that was very powerful but peaky, but the characteristic of this car is very different. It feels much more like an American V8, it’s got power everywhere.’

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The car has just come out of a painstaking restoration to racing condition by its owner Gianluca Rattazzi who’s sharing driving duties here at Spa with Emanuele.

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‘We thought the car was finished last year and went to a couple of events but there was a crankshaft problem we couldn’t get right. It’s sorted now and we’re planning to do all the events we can this year,’ says Gianluca. (He’s the man talking to Emanuele in the pic above.)

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The Alfa is certainly a thing of beauty and, according to Gianluca, even wears 90 percent of its original 1970 red paint.

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‘The car was built in ’69 for the 1970 Targa Florio but had spent many years in a static musuem in its original racing condition when I bought it,’ the owner tells us. ‘I love it really for the shape. It was built just before the transition to slick tyres when everything went a bit more angular. This car is from a period when it still had beautiful curves at the front end.’

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If you missed this very special Alfa at the ’70 Targa Florio, you might have spotted it in the film Le Mans instead. We can say it’s terrific to see it back on the racing circuit too.

The engine will rev to 10,500/11,000rpm (12,000rpm in extremis), but the noise won’t be all it could be as cars require a degree of silencing to run here at Spa.

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‘It’s true the spectators won’t be able to enjoy the noise quite as well as they should, but I get to hear all the best induction noises from the cockpit,’ says Emanuele.

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‘It’s a very nice car to drive from the period, but compared to a modern prototype it’s much slower in the corners. It rolls a bit and carries that momentum into corners so you set it up and wait for the car to finish what you asked it to do!’

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Photography: Jochen van Cauwenberge and Tom Shaxson

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