Italians aim to be firsta pasta the post at TT

Manx Independent - 14 February 1997
By John Watterson

TWO Italian riders aiming to make their debuts in this year's TT were totally flabbergasted when they learned of the speeds attained on the Mountain Circm^ by top aces such as Steve Hislop.

The two Giorgios Cantalupo and Quaranta had seen the on-board video footage of the course several times, and read about the TT in Italian magazines such as Tuttomoto, but they were clearly gob-smacked when the speeds were translated from pounds, shillings and pence into lira! they'd been encouraged to take a look at the course by fellow Italian Francesca Romana Giordano, who first entered the TT in 1992, returning in 1994 and again last year.

The three spent Friday and Saturday on the Island last weekend at the invitation of the Department of Tourism, and, despite a chilly off-season introduction to the Mountain Course, both men intend making their debuts this May, when Francesca will again be returning for another crack at the event she has fallen in love with.

The plucky Italian has done much to brighten the image of the TT in a country where the Isle of Man event has received such bad press for several decades, to the point where more and more riders and spectators are making bow waves to come to the Island for a look at the world famous spectacle.

Giorgio Cantalupo is potentially quite a catch for the TT. The 35 year old bike dealer from Turin is one of the country's leading superbike riders, indeed taking his Ducati 916 to 13th in last year's European Superbike championship, the highlight being a second and third on home soil at Misano.

He likes the real road circuits, making an impressive debut in last year's Ulster Grand Prix, which he hopes to take in again this season.

Having raced for 14 years, he's determined to do his homework right on the TT and does not intend bringing a slightly unwieldy bike such as the big Ducati for his debut.

He has lined up a 750 Kawasaki for the Production race, but would like to join fellow countryman Quaranta in the Junior if he can get hold of a suitable 600.

Quaranta is 41, and although not in his first flush of youth is looking forward to the challenge of the TT. A veteran of 11 years racing, his speciality is hill climbs.

He will bring a Yamaha FZ600 to the Island in May.

Quite a joker, upon meeting 11-times TT winner Steve Hislop last week he gesticulated for a piece of paper and a pen.

Steve was quick to oblige, agreeing to sign his autograph, only for the cheerful Italian to say: 'No, no I sign for you!', asking for the moment to be captured on film so he could show his friends back in Turin the time when Steve Hislop asked HIM for an autograph!!

Although speaking only pigeon English, the pair expressed themselves visibly enough when Hislop converted 124mph into approximately 200 kilometres per hour for his fastest ever lap of the course on the RVF Honda in 1991, also explaining that on the drop down from Creg-ny-Baa to Brandish many of the leading 750s are hitting 300kph.

They certainly weren't put off, however, going back to their digs at the Hydro hotel on Douglas promenade each evening to watch Hislop's on-board circumnavigation of the course on video, whilst completing a total of seven laps of the course for real in a car before tripping off back to Italy on Sunday morning. 'None of us agree with Francesco Zerbi's comments about the TT, and we are all keen to improve the image the Island has in our home country,' says the attractive Francesca Giordano, author of many pro-TT articles in the Italian motorcycle press over the past couple of years.


11-times winner Steve Hislop, pictured with Francesca Giordano and the two Italians who are to make their debuts in this year's TT, Giorgio Quaranta and Giorgio Cantalupo
(John Watterson)

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