September 2002. MAURIZIO FERRECCHI and GIAN IMERITO win the 24th edition of the RALLY di MESSINA graduating themselves, thanks also to the successes gotten at the LANTERNA and at the MARCA TREVIGIANA, Italian RALLY Champions 2002. Their car is a PEUGEOT 206 WRC, heir of the glorious 205T16 of group B dominator of the 1985 and 1986 rally scene and the team that brought them to the success is the GRIFONE.
Up to here nothing strange, but if we run through the rally history to bashful we discover as the team from Genoa, in 44 years of activity has always been able to stay at the top, practically bringing all the rally cars that have raced to the success: from the GIULIETTA to the LANCIA FULVIA HF, from the STRATOS to the LANCIA 037 from the DELTA INTEGRALE to the TOYOTA CELICA, from the COROLLA WRC to the actual PEUGEOT WRC, unbeatable car on all the grounds. Today after this new triumph we can affirm with certainty that the GRIFONE team represents the rally history in Italy, a history started a long time ago. We are in Genoa and the current year is 1958. The road races in that period were of regularity and the teams that shared the victories along the peninsula were substantially two: CAMPIDOGLIO and MEDIOLANUM. There was also a third one, less important than the others, but constituted by people with a great passion for the races. Its name was SCUDERIA QUINTO and its emblem a nice parrot drawn by WALT DISNEY. Just in that period some exponents of this team decide to found a new association detaching themselves from the SCUDERIA QUINTO and establishing in this way a new team. Their names were POGGIO, BERIO, LOMBARDI, DEMCENKO, ZIMMERMANN, CIFARELLI, LAMBRUSCHINI, TINELLI, CAFFERATA, FACCHINETTI and QUARTARA and their emblem the GRIFONE (Griffon), a winged mythological animal that was told by the ancient books it was the custodian of the gold. The popular tradition tells that its den was full of inestimable valuables, that it valiantly defended: the classical writings that describe it tell that it had the strength of a lion, the sight of an eagle and legs with mighty muscles and fatal claws!
Grim, strength and astuteness are the correct ingredients to face the difficult world of the races and that group of friends have not chosen at random the name to give to their association that, after 44 years, still wins.
Among the founders initially didn't appear the name of LUIGI TABATON , the "doctor" as he was called by his companions and today considered "heart and soul" of the Genoese team. TABATON, only in a second time reached the GRIFONE although he had begun to race ten years before, and exactly in 1948. TABATON had the opportunity to show his qualities in the race PONTEDECIMO-GIOVI, on board of an ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA and the good fourth place allowed him to enter in the races world and, with the support of the friend BERIO, to belong to the team of the lantern.
TABATON and BERIO were the true animators of the team; serious, precise and meticulous in the choices and their always professional action gave soon good results. The most prestigious goal, for that period, was to participate to the MONTECARLO with four crews and any retired in the competition that since a long time is one of the most important and difficult. In 1963 GRIFONE gets the first prestigious success, placing at the first place in the newborn Teams Championship before of the favorite CAMPIDOGLIO, at the end of a serious job made by all the team components. Two years later, in 1965, under the guide of LUIGI TABATON and of the colleague ENRICO GIBELLI, the GRIFONE HF rises and, thanks to the support of LANCIA, it becomes the more important Italian team together with the JOLLY CLUB in Milan. New branches are opened in Italy, in towns as Milan, Turin, Rome and Savona and more than 187 drivers, thanks also to the help of the Company in Turin, they compete under the wings of the GRIFONE. New young talents have the opportunity to show their drive ablity and some of them in the following years have also become professionals. Among the most famous drivers we quote MAURO PREGLIASCO, today team manager, DARIO CERRATO, CARLO CAPONE, TONY FASSINA, ADARTICO VUDAFIERI and the great ATTILIO BETTEGA. Impossible to quantify the successes gotten by these and other strong drivers but all of them were supported by a team indeed exceptional for its winning professionalism.
Among all of these drivers one must be remembered to have succeeded in arriving very aloft becoming, besides that point of reference for the adversaries, also symbol of his team. We are of course speaking about FABRIZIO TABATON, LUIGI TABATON son, driver of great talent and good speed qualities. FABRIZIO had a really bright career and in a short time he passes from the small A112 ABARTH, which he wins the Trophy in 1978 with, to the LANCIA STRATOS, which he arrives second in the Italian Championship with, to continue with the FIAT 131 ABARTH, car that allows him to win the first International Rally in career: the LIBURNA Cup. GRIFONE in these years engages a lot of resources and energies in the young driver and the results arrive soon. TABATON wins the 1982 RALLY di AOSTA with the LANCIA 037, car which he will win the group B Italian title in 1984 with and the Italian absolute in 1985. TABATON-GRIFONE-ESSO-LANCIA reveal a real winning group and also in 1986, last year of the group B cars, the Genoese team gains again a new title. This time is the European one, gotten with an always perfect LANCIA DELTA S4, maximum evolution of a rally car. But the escalation doesn't end here. New successes arrive in 1987, with the Italian title gotten with the DELTA 4WD group A and again the European one in 1988 with the DELTA INTEGRALE always thanks to the most representative driver in the team that honored his own international activity with other continental titles, as the absolute title won by YVES LOUBET in 1989 and the two CHALLENGE of group N respectively gone to PIERO LIATTI, in 1988, and to MAURIZIO FERRECCHI, in 1989.
In the fourth decade of its life, the GRIFONE, thanks to a notable breakthrough, still gets prestigious finishing lines. In the 1991 LUIGI TABATON leaves the activity in the hands of his son FABRIZIO that from strong driver becomes valid team-manager. A new structure is built in BUSALLA, near Genoa, and is denominated HF ENGINEERING realized for the management and the tuning of made in ABARTH cars. This factory with a the legendary name (HF means HIGH FIDELITY, structure that let race the FULVIA and the STRATOS in the years '70) and strongly wanted by TABATON, it is born with a precise purpose. We are at the beginnings of the years '90 and the DELTA INTEGRALE, glorious and winning car, is the true dominator of the rallies. The ABARTH, official race department of LANCIA, relied for the management of programs external to the World Championship to satellite-teams such as JOLLY CLUB, TRE GAZZELLE, ASTRA, A.R.T., NOCENTINI and GRIFONE. These structures were on purpose selected from the Abarth because endowed with a certain experience in the races world and therefore able to manage programs with high technological and economic value cars. Each of these, in substance, received from Abarth two or three cars in loan and a big quantity of exchange parts to be used during the season. Initially ABARTH dealt also with the periodic maintenance of the cars that returned in shop to be completely revised. The big work, due to the different cars and to the necessary long times for the dismantlement and the mounting of the mechanical parts, imposed to the ABARTH to look for new solutions to lighten its own job. It imposed therefore to the seed-official teams a different programs management that foresaw the complete car tuning, from the raw chassis to the ended car and, obviously, also all the necessary revisions after each competition. A forced choice but necessary to always stay at the top in the difficult and expensive rally world. These teams clearly had to equip themselves of the technical structures to work at the maximum regimes and so it was for a lot of of them and also for the GRIFONE that was able, with the support of the HF ENGINEERING, to always have material of first quality at disposal of its customers, so to be able to let them always race with cars updated at the top. All of this under the guide of a great leader, CONNY ISENBURG, engineer already executive of the ABARTH and therefore man with great technical-practices know-how. A choice surely dictated by great investments, that brought to the team from Genoea great satisfactions.
The retirement of the ABARTH and of the LANCIA DELTA INTEGRALE imposes to the GRIFONE new alternatives that punctually arrive from East. New agreements are taken with the TTE, TOYOTA TEAM EUROPE, for the management of CELICA and subsequently COROLLA cars with a formula pratically identical to the old one towards ABARTH. An engagement even more heavy, that imposed radicals changes both at logistic and structural level. With the Japanese Company, GRIFONE begins a new cycle of victories, from the small rallies to the international ones becoming in this way the most important team in Europe. In 1995 and in the 1997 PUCCI GROSSI, driver from Rimini of great experience on the gravel, triumphs in the TRADIZIONE TERRA Trophy on board of a CELICA ST205, closing at the best the era of the group A cars.
The 1997 season, on the contrary, is remembered as the darkest one in absolute. A GRIFONE crew, in fact, during the carrying out of the 24th RALLY della LANA (click!) ruinously goes off street overwhelming some spectators and killing one of them. This episode is one of the saddest of the history of GRIFONE, surely due from a mocking and cruel destiny. In 1998 it's time of revenge. In fact, to the Genoese factory arrives the new Corolla WRC, immediately used by strong drivers of the caliber of MARCO TEMPESTINI, ANDREA AGHINI and PIERO LONGHI. For them and for the GRIFONE comes a period of successes with the double win of AGHINI in the CIR Championship 1998 and 1999, the success in the TRADIZIONE TERRA Trophy 1999 obtained by TEMPESTINI and the confirmation in the CIR 2000 with PIERO LONGHI, a point of reference for all the Italian drivers.
The last two years of the GRIFONE, that bring us up to our days, are characterized by a new challenge. FABRIZIO TABATON, by now man of world fame, establishes a new structure created on purpose for the management of the material left him in inheritance from the TTE, withdrawn by the rallies after that TOYOTA decided to concerntrate its energies in the Formula 1 Championship. The STEP2, the second footstep as it is defined by FABRIZIO TABATON, represents the future and the evolution of a tested structure, managed according to that philosophy that has made the GRIFONE winning in the past years. The STEP2 is clearly a society born by the necessity to lighten the work of the GRIFONE but, above all, with the purpose to avoid disagreeable inside conflicts owed to the use of different cars and sponsors. A matter of image and seriousness and, above all, of efficiency. In the new center of MONTOGGIO, in the Genoese hinterland, they find place 5 TOYOTA COROLLA WRC, tuned in the maximum evolution and directly followed from good technicians, whose specialization derives from the experience made inside the TTE. With these cars many drivers have raced in the different European Championships getting victories and positionings of prestige.
Parallelly the GRIFONE continues its activity still obtaining victories of which it never seems satiated. This is demonstrated by the recent success of MAURIZIO FERRECCHI that, on board of a PEOGEOT 206 WRC, has been able to give continuity to a history that continues since 44 years.
We don't want to forget however that the GRIFONE team, in so many years of competitions, has also given support to crews in the small rallies and in other disciplines as the road-track and the autocross competitions in a 360° engagement in the world of races. A last thing must be said. Checking the list of the crews present to the newborn FIAT PUNTO ABARTH Trophy, we discover the name of LUCA TABATON, first-born son of FABRIZIO. He is a young boy with so much desire to race and represents the next future of the team GRIFONE. But not only. In the same trophy we also find ALESSANDRO BETTEGA, son of the great ATTILIO, also him at his debut on the road races. Sometimes the historical events repeat and we hope that in short time they could repeat the great deeds of their fathers giving us, after twenty years, again emotions and challenges.
|.:: GRIFONE-TABATON: three races generations... ::.|
ALFA ROMEO GIULIETTA
Photo Archive - 1958
LANCIA RALLY 037
Photo Archive - 1983
FIAT PUNTO ABARTH
Photo Archive - 2005
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