Fighting the giants: Romeo Ferraris challenge in the FIA ETCR

Fighting against the automotive industry giants is the discipline in which Romeo Ferraris became a specialist. The Italian company, relying on more than six decades of experience, added a new chapter in its racing story competing in the FIA ETCR, the all-electric touring car championship. In sight of this challenge, Romeo Ferraris built the Giulia ETCR, which features OMP safety equipment. Developed at Opera's headquarters, close to Milan, the car is capable of respectable performance thanks to a peak power of 500 kilowatts, equal to 670 horsepower.

The 2022 season journey reached its peak at Zolder circuit, through the win clinched with Maxime Martin at the wheel. The Belgian driver, as his team mates Bruno Spengler, Giovanni Venturini and Luca Filippi, used OMP racewear products: suit, gloves, boots and underwear.

OMP, a brand now part of Racing Force Group, has a longstanding tie with Romeo Ferraris. The partnership also embraced the previous project of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, a winning car in many national series and even in the FIA WTCR, the category's World Cup, facing highly strong opponents.

After the end of the 2022 championship, we interviewed Romeo Ferraris team principal Michela Cerruti. Read what she told us.

Michela, from your team principal point of view how would you resume the 2022 FIA ETCR season?
"First of all, we always had a fast car, as shown by the results in many single sessions. Despite our speed potential, however, we did not collect the results we expected. This has been probably our most difficult year, due to some unlucky episodes, as it happened in Pau and Vallelunga, and we lost the chance to get more points and to contest five DHL Super Finals. These are the decisive heats in the FIA ETCR event, the ones that attribute the highest score, and so they are the most decisive for the standings".

Your biggest joy came this year by the triumph in Zolder.
"Maxime Martin has been perfect during that round, affirming himself as "King of the Weekend" with a clean sweep. We gave a strong message about our competitiveness, but last year, when we won in Copenhagen, we also managed to obtain the highest score among the manufacturers. For this reason, I regard the Zolder weekend very positively, but not at one hundred percent! Taking home at least a victory was one of our goals for 2022, but actually we would have liked to celebrate even more wins".

By the way, it's safe to affirm you have been capable, as an independent entity, to challenge and beat on track some big automotive groups. What is the secret?
"We managed to shine undertaking two very different programs. The Giulietta TCR project was customer-oriented, and it proved to be a success as we sold many cars that are still racing around the world. The FIA ETCR mission is even harder, as we are committed with a factory program. Our size enables us less investment and resources in comparison to the rivals. The secret, as I always say, is then in our people. Talking about technical abilities, know-how and competences, we are short of nothing: we build racecars since ever and we do it very well! Inside our team there’s a pure passion atmosphere, a huge motivation and team spirit. We like to say we're a family, and it's not a cliché, considering the way how we manage the integration of new personnel or the drivers' choice. We always keep in mind a common goal, everyone joins our cause and it gets important winning all together. This inner force is helping us since many seasons, and it's always a reason to be proud".

OMP, now a brand of Racing Force Group, works along Romeo Ferraris since a number of years. What do you seek in a racewear and car safety components supply?
"OMP is that brand that always enabled us to have quality materials on many sides, from drivers' racewear to cars' setting up, with seats, brackets, safety belts or extinguishers. There's a good commercial relationship that has evolved into a more personal bond, and we can overcome a lot of challenges related to the development of a racecar. For example, we homologated a specific seat for the Giulia ETCR. Our drivers have always been satisfied with the racewear, and OMP never missed to fulfill their needs. We get along well".

The FIA ETCR championship pays great attention to sustainability, as does the Racing Force Group. What is the role the motorsport community can play on this topic?
"When we talk about sustainability in racing, we have not to think about just cars' engines, thermal or electric. Motorsport moves a huge quantity of people towards race venues, tons of materials, so it's firstly needed to create awareness, commit to good practices, and educate. This is what makes the difference, and where our industry can be a leader. We can start with little gestures. Today, we drink with paper glasses instead of plastic ones, we use water bottles instead of plastic ones, and we sort the waste. Further up, FIA ETCR launched a reforestation programme, to plant a tree for every covered km, or it adopted Energy Stations feeded by hydrogen to recharging the cars. All these things are useful to give a message, to maintain the attention high. Like Racing Force, many companies are following this path and it's absolutely crucial: the action by a single person counts, but it counts even more what the big groups do".