AN ITALIAN DREAM

The Martini Tecno Grand Prix team in 1972 and 1973

The most famous names in Italian motorsport undoubtedly are Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, all three winning the Grand Prix Worldchampionship several times. By the way these former rival companies today are united under the roof of the FIAT group from Torino.

At the side of theses giants Lancia and Benetton, but also a lot of smaller teams were competing in Grand Prix Racing for several seasons. A.T.S. (with Giancarlo Baghetti and Phil Hill in 1963), de Tomaso (1961 to 1963, 1970), Iso Rivolta, Osella, Dallara, Coloni, Andrea Moda, Lamborghini, Minardi and some others were belonging to them. Also the Martini Tecno team, that existed only in the years 1972 and 1973, was one of them.

That company had been founded in Bologna back in 1960 by the brothers Luciano and Gianfranco Perderzani, both engineers. Originally they had produced hydraulics equipment and gearbox parts. Very soon after the inauguration of the medium-sized firm, go karts had come over the Atlantic from the United States of America. The Pederzani brothers very quickly had noticed a growing market for this small racers and so they had started producing them very successfully. From 1964 to 1966 the go kart worldchampionship had been won by drivers using Tecno karts. In 1967 Tecno had entered Formula 3 the same successful way. In 1969 rising Swedish star Ronnie Peterson had won the classic Formula 3 round of the Monaco Grand Prix driving a Tecno sponsored by pharmaceutical group Vick. The same year Tecno had been able to establish theirselves very quickly in the top of Formula 2 racing. For 1970 their Formula 2 top drivers had been the rising Grand Prix aces Clay Regazzoni from Switzerland and Frenchman Francois Cevert. Meanwhile Tecno had not used only their own spaceframe chassis, they also had got the facilities to supply theirselves with domestic made 1.6 litre 4 cylinder Ford production based engines, that had been very competitive. So it had been no wonder, that Tecno, sponsored by French oil group Motul, had won the 1970 Formula 2 European Championship in a superior manner, Clay Regazzoni had scored seven victories out of eleven races competing in. Meanwhile Tecno had become Italy´s most successful make in single-seater racing of that period.

So it seemed to be the logical step to enter Grand Prix Racing. That decision had been made very early in 1971, exactly in February. In contrast to the British constructors, who, with the exception of B.R.M., had used domestic made chassis combined with bought Ford Cosworth engines, the Pederzani brothers created an engine of their own. As it had been shown by Ferrari before, it also became an 180° flat unit with 12 cylinders. But that was the only thing this engine shared with that one of the Ferrari 312 types. The Tecno engine had got it´s distributor (Marelli), the fuel injection and the fuel pump (both made by Lucas) vertically on the top of the engine block. Four valves per cylinder were driven by two overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, that theirselves were powered by belt drive as well as the distributor and the fuel system. Five oil pumps overall were needed for the lubrication, the fumes escaped through four exhaust pipes. The engine had got a very short stroke of 48 mm (Ferrari: 53 mm) and a rev limit of 13,000 rpm, that were enough for 460 horse powers, the same level the best Ford Cosworth DFVs for Tyrrell and Lotus had reached. Because of not having got such high budgets as the other competitors of the 12 cylinder group, Ferrari, Matra and B.R.M., no light materials like titanium and magnesium were available for the early versions of the Tecno engine. So it was no wonder, that it´s weight was 190 kg, 18 more of that of the Ford Cosworth, that was used by 80 per cent of that time´s Grand Prix teams. Around their engine, that had been put onto the test stand for the very first time in summer 1971, the Pederzani brothers designed a chassis in the style of Italian air-craft construction, a way, also had gone by Ferrari: A spaceframe made out of light angular steel pipes was strengthened by aluminum sheets. As the Cosworth powered British cars the Tecno used a Hewland FG400 gearbox (that was pretty unreliable) and a Borg & Beck clutch. The car with the model designation PA123 was on Firestone tyres. That US-American rubber company won their last worldchampionship title in 1972 with Emerson Fittipaldi in a Lotus Ford to reduce their effords dramatically the following years.

The basic idea had been to bring the car to the grid of last Formula One race of 1971, the non-championship event of the Worldchampionship Victory Race held at Brands Hatch, that had cost the life of Swiss B.R.M. star driver Jo Siffert. But very soon it became clear, that time had been too short for the development of a complete Grand Prix car by a company having got 100 employees overall. So it took until December 1971 for Tecno to get all things organized and a real national euphoria broke out, when Tecno made public, that they had signed up with Alfa Romeo works driver Giovanni Nanni Galli as their number one. At that point speculations had come to an end, former Tecno Formula 2 driver Francois Cevert, since 1970 a promising new star in the Tyrrell team, would take that job. Since the fatal accidents of Lorenzo Bandini at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix and of Ignazio Giunti during the 1000 Kilometre Race of Buenos Aires at the beginning of 1971 Nanni Galli was the first Italian Grand Prix driver in an Italian Grand Prix car. A real Christmas present was given to Tecno, when aperitif company Martini from nearby Pessione (also in the Northern part of Italy) decided to become the Bolognese team´s title sponsor. The official team launch took place very soon after that announcement to present Briton Derek Bell as Tecno´s second driver for the 1972 worldchampionship. The former team manager of John Wyer´s Gulf Porsche team, who had won the Worldchampionship of Makes both in 1970 and 1971, David Yorke the same time entered Tecno as their managing director. With a good personal and financial basis the future looked very promising for Tecno and nothing could stop the Italians´ enthusiasm for motor racing.

The 1972 Grand Prix season began very early on 23rd January with the Argentine round held at Buenos Aires, but no Tecno was seen on the grid. The same happened in Kyalami/South Africa, and the first European rounds in Jarama/Spain and Monaco/Monte Carlo. There were a lot of rumours coming from Bologna about problems both with the chassis and the engine. Fact was, that the car showed at the Martini Tecno team launch earlier that year was too wide. It were more than the 110 centimetres allowed at that time (The technical regulations for 1973 demanded lateral deformable structures protecting the fuel tanks and for this reason a width of 140 centimetres was permitted.) So Tecno was forced to make their chassis slimmer, what meant a lot of hard work to keep it stiff enough.

So it took until the fifth round of the 1972 worldchampionship, the Belgian Grand Prix taking place at the brandnew track of Nivelles near Bruxelles to see a Tecno on the grid. It was a sole car entry for Nanni Galli, but while the car had looked in very proper condition at the team launch, the modified version of the PA123 presented in Belgium, seemed to be pretty incomplete. Galli qualified the car 24th position and in the race he collided, lying on 17th place, with the Ferrari of former Tecno Formula 2 champion Clay Regazzoni, when being lapped by him. No doubt, that was the worst thing, that could happen. The debut of Tecno in Grand Prix Racing was a real desaster and the Italian newspapers burst out into rage. The honeymoon was over faster than Tecno could believe, because press and people had expected the same the Bolognese company had delivered in Formula 2 and 3 for years. They did not want to notice, that building up a Grand Prix team is a very different job than to compete in the lower formulas, a fact some ten years later Toleman would be confronted with.

In summer 1972 Tecno, who had build their first Grand Prix car in a record breaking time of only 10 month before had an enormous delay in testing. Also the scheduled three cars (one for Galli and Bell and a spare car) to be produced did not become ready in time and so Galli and Bell were forced to alternate each other behind the wheel of the Tecno PA123. For the French Grand Prix Derek Bell entered the cockpit of the sole Tecno available at that time, but he was not able to do a single timed lap in qualifying because of technical problems. Very amazing was, that in this race Nanni Galli drove the third Ferrari 312B2 as the team mate of Ickx and Regazzoni. Tecno´s third Grand Prix, the British round held at Brands Hatch again was driven by Galli, while Bell was behind the wheel in Germany (Nuerburgring), Canada (Mosport) and in the USA (Watkins Glen). Only in their home Grand Prix of Italy Tecno had got two cars available, but Bell was not able to qualify for the race. In their maiden Grand Prix season Tecno brought a car to the tracks nine times, fourtimes they retired by engine problems, two times they did not start and one time they did not qualify. Two further times they did not finish caused by driver´s mistakes. Tecno´s excellent reputation for building competitive racing cars had dissappeared with in a handful of Grand Prix competed in.

One of the reasons for Tecno´s 1972 season was so awful, was the lack of money. Actually Martini & Rossi were the title sponsors of the team, but their ressources completely had to be spent for the development of chassis and engine. Also huge sums had to be used for he neccessary corrections on the chassis sector very early before Tecno had been able to enter their first ever race in Belgium. There had been also no prize money t won by all the retirements and in addition to that, the transportation to the overseas Grand Prix in Canada and the USA had to be paid completely by the Bolognese team, while the established constructors partly were financially supported by the races´ organizers. So the Pederzani brothers had to invest a lot of personal money into their Grand Prix project, exactly knowing, that there were certain limits for doing so in the future.

Everything should be changed for the 1973 season. A new simple, but modern car, the PA123 B, had been designed over the winter around the 12 cylinder engine and when Chris Amon had been sacked by Max Mosley of March Engineering (he again had signed up with after they had already shared the 1970 season), an experienced, successful and also very popular Grand Prix driver had become available for Tecno, in spite the New Zealander had never won a single Grand Prix. Amon did a lot of testing, but not only money, but also time had become very short, so Tecno again had to leave out the first four worldchampionship rounds to enter the scene later again in Belgium. During the testing sessions Amon had to be able to cure the worst problems, but very early in the year 1973 the designers McCall and Wyss had left the Bologna headquarters after a quarell with team boss David Yorke. Success seemed to come Tecno´s way during the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, when Chris Amon had qualified the PA123 B fifteenth place. After a lot of hard work Amon brought the car home a fine 6th place to score the Italian team´s first ever worldchampionship point. In Monaco Amon was able to qualify 12th on the grid and from the British Grand Prix he had a new model, the E371 available. That car was supplied with a monocoque made by British company Thomson, who also had produced the chassis of the 1973 version of the Ferrari 312B3. And so the Tecno E371 in it´s red Italian national colours looked like a brother of the Maranello made car that year. But money was extremely short for Tecno also in 1973 to make them only compete in Monaco, Britain, and The Netherlands´ round held at Zandvoort, where Amon had to retire with difficulties on the engine sector. The beautiful looking E371 only was used as the team´s spare car and was never raced. Tecno had left out the German Grand Prix at the demanding Nuerburgring-Nordschleife and went to Austria´s Zeltweg. But there they were not able to bring neither the PA123 B nor the E371 to the grid. When Tecno did not appear at their home Grand Prix at Monza a little later, it became clear that an Italian dream was over definitely. In Canada and the USA Chris Amon drove the third Tyrrell Ford.

J H

 

TECNO GALLERY [1]

TECNO GALLERY [2]

TECNO STATISTICS

TECNO PA123B

 

 

Nanni Galli (I), Tecno PA123/1 [1972]

 

Chris Amon (NZ), Tecno PA123 B [1973]

 

Chris Amon (NZ), Tecno E371 [1973]

 

 

Graphics: project * 2000

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