In his spare time, Italian wine entrepreneur Agostino Rizzardi competes in the world’s toughest rallies in a modified Porsche 964. He revealed to us what four character traits and skills are needed for this extreme form of motorsport-and how they are also crucial in the business world.
Sand that swirls up and covers every surface. Scorching heat that strains every fiber of the body. Extremely high mental pressure to cover a distance of 500 to 700 kilometers on demanding terrain in just one day. And on top of that, the constant concentration, without which a momentous mistake can quickly happen. No question, it requires strong physical and character qualities to contest a Rally Raid. Agostino Rizzardi is passionate about this special form of long-distance rally, where most of the route runs far from paved roads. The Italian is passionate about motorsport – and has been for over 25 years.
For one or the other wine connoisseur, his last name is certainly a familiar one: The family winery in Bardolino on Lake Garda has existed since 1678. About 20 years ago, Rizzardi and his brother took over the traditional company business and have been successfully expanding it ever since. Despite all the work, the adventure hunter takes the time on average two or three times a year to participate in sweaty marathon rallies in countries like Morocco, Tunisia, or Libya with his modified Porsche 964.
Why exactly does he do this? Even Rizzardi himself has a bit of a hard time answering: “I don’t know exactly why I invest so much effort, money, time and manpower. But it gives me a good feeling. And the opportunity to use my skills properly.”
By that he means skills needed not only to tackle tough stages over sand, scree, through water and mud, but also to successfully run a business. “It starts with decent organizational skills. Because driving is only one part, the most fun part, of the whole mission. I start preparing on average three months before a rally – at the latest.” Accordingly, he says, a structured approach and planning foresight are essential in order to ultimately have a serviceable car, sufficient spare parts and tires, and a competent team of mechanics in place.
“Secondly, you have to be mentally and emotionally stable.” Without this quality, the hours of driving in extreme conditions could not be endured. “It’s always essential to have a good relationship with yourself and, of course, with the rest of the team.” Because without cohesion, nothing works at all. Nor without the ability to adapt quickly: “You have to be an expert in subjects like mechanics, navigation, and generally in 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 a matter of having the right gut feeling: “If I have three equal options or three routes I can take, I have to intuitively choose the right one.”
The last characteristic that makes a good rally driver, according to Rizzardi, reads as simple as it is logical: “You have to be fast. Because all the other qualities won’t do you any good if you’re not fast enough.” The motorsport enthusiast is not necessarily interested in winning rallies, but in constantly improving: “When I started in 2009, I was driving at the back of the field.” In the meantime, he has managed to win one or two classes – proof of the fact that he is constantly growing from these challenges.
Incidentally, Agostino Rizzardi’s dream of a possible rally raid victory is currently outweighed by a completely different desire: “I want a Porsche 959 S – my absolute dream car. I wouldn’t just put it away, I’d actually drive it. After all, that’s what these cars were built for.” And while searching for this gem, Rizzardi is already preparing for his next adventure: Provided everything goes as planned, he will take part in the Morocco Desert Challenge next April. 3,000 kilometers in eight days. To this end, he will begin with chassis tuning in Tunisia as early as November – at the latest.
Photo credits Home Story: Matthias Mederer / ramp.pictures
Photo Credits Dynamic Rally Shots: Courtesy of Agostino Rizzardi