In his spare time, the Italian wine producer, Agostino Rizzardi, competes in the world's toughest rallies with a modified Porsche 964. He told us which four qualities and skills are required for this extreme form of motorsport – and highlighted the importance of these in the business world.
Agostino Rizzardi: a life alternating between extreme rallies and fine wine
Swirling sand covering every surface. Searing heat draining every fibre of your body. The immense mental pressure required to cover a distance of 500 to 700 kilometres over challenging terrain in just one day. Plus unwavering concentration, without which a serious error can quickly occur. You undoubtedly need impressive physical and personal attributes to compete in a rally raid. Agostino Rizzardi is an enthusiast of this special form of endurance rally, in which most sections are off-road, cross-country routes. The Italian is passionate about motorsport – and has been for over 25 years.
His surname is certainly well-known among wine connoisseurs: the family vineyard in Bardolino on Lake Garda has been in existence since 1678. Rizzardi and his brother took over the company's traditional businesses about 20 years ago and have been successfully expanding these ever since. Two to three times a year on average, the adventurer takes a break from his heavy workload to compete in strenuous marathon rallies in countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Libya with his modified Porsche 964.
Why does he do this? Even Rizzardi finds it rather difficult to answer this: “I don’t know exactly why I invest so much effort, money, time and manpower. But it makes me feel good. And is an opportunity to use my skills appropriately.”
By this, he means skills that are not only required to cope with tough stages over sand and scree, as well as through mud and water, but also to successfully manage a company. “It begins with excellent organisation skills. Because driving is only one part, the most fun part, of the entire mission. On average, I start preparing three months before a rally – at the latest.” According to him, a structured approach and planning foresight are essential in order to ultimately have a fully operational car, sufficient spares and tyres and a team of professional mechanics in the right place.
“Secondly, you have to be mentally and emotionally stable.” Without this quality, you would be unable to withstand the hours of driving under extreme conditions. “It’s always essential to have a good relationship with yourself and of course with the rest of the team.” Because nothing is achieved without team spirit. Or without the ability to be able to quickly adapt: “You must be an expert in topics such as mechanics, navigation and, in general, constantly overcoming new challenges.” Because sometimes, the environment changes within minutes – sand becomes rock or you suddenly have to cross a raging river. It’s also important to follow your instincts: “If I have three equivalent options or three available routes, I have to intuitively choose the right one.”
The final quality that makes a good rally driver, according to Rizzardi, is both simple and logical: “You have to be fast. Because all the other qualities will achieve nothing if you are not fast enough.” For the motorsport enthusiast, it is not necessarily a matter of winning rallies, but rather constantly improving: “When I started doing this in 2009, I was in last place.” Since then, he has achieved one or two class victories – evidence of the fact that he is steadily meeting these challenges.
Incidentally, a very different desire is currently outweighing Agostino Rizzardi’s dream of a possible rally raid victory: “I want a Porsche 959 S – my absolute dream car. Not just to keep in the garage, but to actually drive. After all, that’s what these cars were built for.” And while looking for this gem, Rizzardi is already preparing for his next adventure: if everything goes according to plan, he will compete in the Morocco Desert Challenge next April. 3,000 kilometres in eight days. For which he will begin tuning the chassis in Tunisia in November – at the latest.
Fotocredits Home Story: Matthias Mederer / ramp.pictures
Fotocredits Dynamic Rallye Shots: Courtesy of Agostino Rizzardi