2004 Powerboat P1 champion and former international tennis star Adriano Panatta has confirmed that he’ll be returning to the series from this weekend’s Grand Prix de Marseille in France.
240x160 Adriano Panatta and Powerboat P1’s Robert Wicks celebrate the Italians racing return
The Italian – who won the French Open tennis title, and helped Italy secure its first Davis Cup crown in 1976 – has been an enthusiastic powerboat competitor for many years, and is a major player in the Italian offshore racing scene.
He will be returning to action in a new entry run by the Italian-based Inrizzardi Racing Team, with the #76 Italcraft boat carrying the number 76 that has proved so important in Panatta’s career – being the year of his major tennis success and the number of the boat with which he won his 2004 Powerboat P1 crown. Class 3 world champion Mauro Pallini will be the pilot of the new boat, with Panatta taking the throttle position.
'I’m very happy to be returning to competition in Powerboat P1,' Panatta said. 'Many things have changed in the championship, and the opening weekend in San Benedetto was a resounding success. With the arrival of Jim O’Toole and the new management chaired by him, everything is different today and the prospects for the series are good.'
Although Panatta was planning to race in the 2008 Powerboat P1 season-opener in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy before being forced out by technical problems, he’s just as pleased to be making his series return in France, where he enjoyed his greatest tennis triumph.
'After we were force to miss San Benedetto, where technical problems meant we couldn’t get the boat in the water, to be finally back in the sea is a beautiful thing. France has always fascinated my curiosity, my way of being. For example, every day I read the Italian newspapers and the French newspaper L’Equipe.
'Our first task [in France] is to verify the competitiveness of the hull, because we are talking about a completely new hull, built and prepared by Roberto Biancalana. But, now everything seems ready and we’re finally going to see its potential.'
Panatta is also hoping to try and beat the Venice-Monaco-Venice record of 23h55m in the boat, and is lining up a deal for pilot Mario Invernizzi to join his crew.