DRIVERS: RICARDO ZUNINO

Name: Ricardo Zunino
Nationality: Argentina
Date of birth: April 13, 1949 - Buenos Aires

From a well-to-do farming family, with land close to the Argentina-Chile border, Zunino began racing sports cars in Argentina at the age of 25. He moved up to the national touring car championship and his success led to sponsorship from the Automobile Club of Argentina to go to Europe in 1977, at the age of 28. He started in F2 driving a March-Hart for the Euroracing team but made little initial impact before switching to the works March team, which resulted in his one decent result in the rain at Pau. He improved in 1978 and scored 8 points.

Plans to enter F1 series in 1979 with a BS Fabrications car failed to get off the ground. He tested a Brabham but went back to F2 with March. In the midseason an opportunity arose for him to race in the new Aurora F1 series in Britain in a McLaren M23. It was not very competitive and he soon switched to an Arrows A1 and became much more competitive, winning at Brands Hatch, ahead of Guy Edwards and David Kennedy and then finishing second to Rupert Keegan in two consecutive races.

At the end of September 1979 he travelled to Montreal to watch the Canadian Grand Prix. That weekend Niki Lauda suddenly decided to leave the Brabham team and Bernie Ecclestone was left with no driver. He grabbed Zunino because he was there and had tested for the team. He qualified 19th but finished seventh, albeit a long way behind. At Watkins Glen a week later he qualified ninth. The team decided to keep him in 1980 and things began well with seventh place in Argentina and eighth in Brazil but then things began to slide and he failed to qualify in Monaco. As a result he was replaced by Hector Rebaque for the British GP. He missed the rest of the season but Ecclestone asked him back for the non-championship South African GP and he qualified seventh and run second before finishing eighth.

In 1981 Ken Tyrrell was looking for a team mate for Eddie Cheever and decided to use Zunino for the two South American races. In Buenos Aires he made an impressive start from 24th on the grid and was running 10th when he was given a one-lap penalty when he missed a chicane. By then, however, Tyrrell was getting excited about a young Italian called Michele Alboreto and Zunino was dropped. He turned down the chance to drive for Ensign for the rest of the year, reckoning the car to be uncompetitive. The outbreak of the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in March 1982 meant that he had no chance of a drive that year.

He later competed in occasional historic cars races but turned his attention to running a hotel in his local region called the Posada San Eduardo, in the shadow of the foothills of the Andes. His success has led to him to become the head of the local tourist organisation in the town of Barreal.

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