JANUARY 23, 2006
Martini & Rossi joins Ferrari!
Ferrari is expected to announce later today that it has signed a new sponsorship deal with the drinks company Martini & Rossi. The Turin-based drinks company has a long history of involvement in motor racing but in recent years has been out of the sport. The arrival at McLaren of Johnny Walker seems to have spurred the Italians into action again and where better for an Italian firm than with Ferrari.
The company dates back more than 140 years but became Martini & Rossi only in 1879 when winemaker Luigi Rossi bought into the Martini company. The company was first involved in the sport in 1968 when the German distributor of Martini & Rossi sponsored a Porsche 906 sportscar. This led to a relationship with the Porsche factory team in 1971 with a 917 raced by Vic Elford and Gerard Larrousse. The company then hired the JWA Porsche team manager David Yorke to be its motor racing consultant and he suggested that the company sponsor the Brabham F1 team. This advise was ignored and Martini sponsored the local Tecno F1 team in 1972 and 1973 before finally taking Yorke's advice and sponsoring Brabham in 1975, 1976 and 1977. At the same time the company enjoyed a successful sportscar programme with Porsche with the 936 and the 911SC.
After taking a year out of F1 in 1978 the company returned with Team Lotus in 1979 but this was not a success and so Martini concentrated on sportscars again in 1980. The relationship with Porsche came to an end that year and Martini began a longterm partnership with Lancia, initially in sportscar racing but after 1983 in the World Rally Championship. This resulted in six World titles before it was decided to switch to touring cars at the end of 1991 with Alfa Romeo, initially in the Italian national series but then in the International Touring Car Championship. In 1999 a new relationship began with Ford in the WRC but now it seems Martini wants to get back into again.
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