Il Barone Rampante

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Il Barone Rampante is a racing organisation owned by Alessandro Linari, which currently prepares cars on behalf of Italian manufacturer Lancia for the F1RWRS, F2RWRS, F3RWRS and Rejects of LFS teams among others. They run cars under two different team banners, a senior Scuderia Alitalia team and a junior squad named Parma Corse.

History

Team Merzario

Saras Team Merzario Logo (circa 1979)
1979 Team Merzario M4B chassis

The team can trace its roots all the way back to 1977, when Arturo Merzario founded his own Team Merzario racing squad in Formula One. A disappointing year running a year old March was followed by the production of his own car, the Merzario A1, which also flopped. He stepped down from racing the cars himself and instead expanded to a two-car team of Elio de Angelis and Simone Guidetti, and after the updated Merzario A1B also failed to qualify at the start of 1979, the car was scrapped in favour of year old Arrows A1B chassis, rebadged as Merzario A4Bs. They helped, with both cars making the grid.

Things improved somewhat with the announcement of a partnership with Italian sportscar marque Lamborghini, who gave the squad a works supply of engines from 1980 onwards. However, a few years of mixed fortunes, the turbo era had escalated the cost of running an F1 team, and therefore Merzario decided to step his team down to F2. They remained in International Formula 3000 when the FIA renamed the series, but were midfield runners at best and looked like they had little chance of improving.

Giuseppe Cipriani

With the Merzario F3000 team struggling to find cash to keep running, rich Italian playboy Giuseppe Cipriani stepped into the fray and purchased the team, renaming it from Merzario to Il Barone Rampante. He threw money at the team like there was no tomorrow, and ended up with the team finishing second in the F3000 championship in 1991 and 1992. It was not enough to satisfy Cipriani however, and with his father holding the keys to his personal fortune, he was told playtime was over and it was time to sell up.

Alessandro Linari

For a while it looked like a buyer would not be found and the team wound up, but at the last minute a young Scot named Alessandro Linari turned up and purchased the entire outfit, using money gained from his short yet successful career as a stock market trader. He contined slowly building up the squad once again, including resuming the Lamborghini partnership formed between the Il Toro and Merzario in 1980. This lead to bigger things, with Linari put in charge of finding customer's for Lamborghini's new V12 engine for 1997.

When no-one wanted to buy the heavy units, Lamborghini instead purchased the ailing Tyrrell F1 team, and handed responsibility for running the new works team and creating the chassis to Il Barone Rampante, a team that hadn't been in F1 for the previous 15 years.

Despite the inexperience of the IBR team in F1 at the time, and the concerns over both the competitiveness and reliability of the Lambo V12, Jean Alesi gave the team their first ever win after only their third ever Grand Prix back in the sport. Things quickly went sour however; a brawl with arch-rivals Ferrari over use of Imola for testing ended in both teams being penalised, but Lamborghini more heavily than Ferrari. Lamborghini complained, and over time an ever growing rift and anger grew between Lamborghini and the FIA, eventually leading Lamborghini to pull the plug on the project and leave Il Barone Rampante in the lurch; the expenses of running an F1 team with almost no backing to speak of.

They then moved alleigance to Nissan, participating in the Rejects Touring Car Championship as the Japanese marque's works effort, with John Cleland, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Rickard Rydell as drivers. However, results were not as good as expected and after a couple of years Nissan withdrew backing to the team, which led to IBR dropping out of IBR altogether.

They scaled back their involvement in motorsport massively at the end of the millenium, and changed discipline entirely by running a Fiat Punto in the Italian Rally Championship from 2000. In 2001 this expaned to a two car team, winning the IRC title in 2002 along with a handful of wins in the ERC. Fiat were impressed with the team's efforts, and with the engineering expertise the team had acquired over the years, asked Il Barone Rampante to develop the new generation Fiat Grande Punto S2000. They won rallies on a regular basis across multiple championships, and became front-runners in the PWRC despite the Punto being lower on power than its Japanese rivals Subaru and Mitsubishi.

Fiat affiliate

In 2010, Alessandro Linari resigned as CEO, but retained his shares in the company, to depart the team for a new project, Virgin Inter Corse, a decision he would later come to regret due to the mismanagement at ownership level. Simone Guidetti took over as MD in his place.

The team's good efforts with the Punto S2000 meant Fiat awarded IBR the contract to create a new generation of cars for the new Formula Abarth series, a return to their single-seater roots, as well as special engineering on the 500 Abarth. They were happy, but making little headway elsewhere in the sporting world. However, their luck was about to change.

Linari returns

Scuderia Alitalia's 2014 F1RWRS car

After the Virgin Inter Corse debacle, Linari was looking for a return to his roots, and was luckily offered an open door to his old team he had helped build up, rejoining the company as CEO in 2014. He had established the excellent working relationship between Il Barone Rampante and the Fiat Group, and was asked by Sergio Marchionne to lead a motorsport-driven rebuild of the group's ailing Lancia brand. Linari took swift action, upscaling the business by making a series of swift acquisings, most notably Trueba Racing Team. From this purchase, Scuderia Alitalia was founded, and began competing in F1RWRS. The purchase also included the Trueba Junior Team, giving them a presence in the F2RWRS feeder series at the same time, although a controversy about legality meant the team had to run thogeter with the Jones Racing Group to form Scuderia Jones Italia. They were also allowed mid-season entry to the inaugural F3RWRS season in 2014, and a full season in the late-starting Rejects of LFS.

For 2015 they became a major player in the Formula One Rejects Microprose Grand Prix Series, buying a majority share in the Scuderia Andrea Coloni team and renaming it to Scuderia Alitalia Andrea Coloni. The works Lancia engines were also present here, a much needed boost for a team using an aincent Judd engine.

The new Scuderia Alitalia and Parma Corse teams are continuing to expand into new series at a very fast rate, and are set to become the single biggest racing team in the world, competing across single-seaters, touring cars, rallying, and even diversifying into the UCI ProTour cycling championship and football, with Linari owning minority shares in F.C. Internazionale Milano and Parma F.C.

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