Usually the feeling after any bigger event we attend is one of slight anti-climax; rarely to do with the event itself but rather the buzz of watching some truly gifted drivers do their thing, take home some trophies before everyone departs only to repeat it in however long again. Its tough to pinpoint but as soon as a race is over, its become second nature to immediately tune into ‘the next event’, this seems to apply to a lot of the pros, they have the bug or fever of travel, racing and doing what they love, a select few, for a living.

This brings me nicely to the topic of this odd little article and that is a term we coined this weekend to cover the ‘bright young things’ that have emerged in Italian racing – the Italian Rat Pack. A nod & play on ‘Rat Pack’ or more so ‘Brat Pack’ – a group of young racers who frequently appear together and all of whom are developing with one another, as a result of one another as well.

eur_7370Cheeky from young Davide Ongaro

The list obviously includes the two more ‘senior’ of the pack – race winner & poster boy Alex Zanchettin and fellow TLR’r Alessandro Stocco. Despite his occasional feisty driving we couldn’t help but be mightily impressed by Zanchettin, he’s now beaten some of the World’s absolute best drivers twice (the first time back in November 2013), ok we hear you, home turf, he’s done more than a few laps round IBR Padova much like the rest of the ‘Pack’ but it still takes some finesse, guts and speed to mix it with a group of Pros with 8 european titles, a World Championship & Worlds TQ between them.

EUR_4768Zanchettin slices through the field at IBR Padova

Especially in the case of Zanchettin, I spent much of the event considering whether he can make the elusive jump from a European ‘podiumer’ to an actual winner, if we consider the Euros, there are maybe 10 drivers who can win it, out of those 10, five who you would find it difficult to pick between prior to an event, Zanchettin if he can replicate the pace at races outside of Italy has what it takes to break into that 10, perhaps in time even that ‘five’ ?

EUR_3866Riccardo Berton contemplates for a moment

Back on topic, along with Alex & Ale we have Riccardo Berton; quiet young unsponsored Kyosho driver, European ‘B’ Champion and RB products most decorated racer Marco Baruffolo, running everything bar servo & radio products from the French company. And finally star of last year’s Euro B’s Davide Ongaro, he’d finish an unlucky 13th here today, but was in the hunt in all three finals, a suspect engine killing his chances of a potential podium, Ongaro deserved better today, but racing is a fickle firecrackerof a mistress – you AND your equipment win together… And for that matter lose together. Watch out for him though, he almost made it to 2013’s Euro main final. He may have giant-killing days ahead of him.

eur_7694 eur_7707 eur_7698
Left to right: Alessandro Stocco, Marco Baruffolo & Ongaro

So what of this ‘Italian Rat Pack’, its not often we witness real history within our niche motorsport in the making but if you collect a group of talent and get them to race with each other as often as possible, they tend to all improve, the classic example being the ascendancy of US racers in 1/8 buggy since the early 2000s who’ve come to dominate since. Whilst the Pack have a massive advantage racing on track they’ve lapped hundreds if not thousands of times, it still takes a healthy dollop of talent to make it.

EUR_3859Ongaro impressed with his surging drives at the Italian Job Race

In NeoBuggy’s 12th year (wow…) of online-ness, we’ve seen a few generations of pros pass through the revolving doors, some careers much longer than others but ultimately we are always on the lookout for drivers who may lead the charge of the ‘next generation’.

The 2004 Worlds was the first ‘big race’ we covered, Robert Batlle’s star ignited at that event as he made the final whilst Reno Savoya’s took a little longer to get going ultimately the ‘Best of on track enemies’ (they are friends and very respectful), we saw the rise and rise of Elliott Boots, Ronnefalk as well as Tebo’s years of dominance. Its January now, and we have a World Championship to decide on Italian soil in September, whilst it might be a leap too far to suggest Italy’s 18-year 1/8 buggy World Championship dry spell might end, the future looks bright for the Azzurri.