One of the most celebrated models of the British Touring Car Championship series, an Ex-Works Alfa Corse, driven and owned by Alfa Romeo legend Gabriele Tarquini. This stunning 1994 BTCC Winner has come up for sale with RM Sothebys.
The Super Touring era was a golden age for the British Touring Car Championship and its popularity and strong following had not gone unnoticed at Alfa Romeo. Keen to be part of the action, Alfa Corse, who were the factory racing team of Alfa Romeo, was tasked with designing and building a car to take on the likes of Ford, Renault, Vauxhall, BMW and Volvo for the 1994 season. The result was the now infamous Alfa Romeo 155 TS BTCC.
In order exploit a loophole in the homologation criteria that stipulated 2,500 road going variants of similar specification had to be sold to the public, Alfa Romeo launched the 155 ‘Silverstone edition’, complete with a much higher adjustable rear wing and adjustable front splitter. This naturally gave the racing variant a controversial advantage over its competitors, which was made all the more contentious when it transpired that the raised rear wing was supplied in kit-form in the boot of the Silverstone, for owners to install if they wanted. The fact that Alfa Romeo ran the cars with the wings in the retracted position in pre-season testing, thus keeping the ‘extended’ aero parts a secret until the first race meeting at Thruxton was equally provocative.
Notwithstanding, the 155TS BTCC was utterly dominant and team leader Gabriele Tarquini took pole position, fastest lap and the race win to start the season. He then followed it up with four further wins in the next four events, during which time vociferous complaints were being lodged, predominately Ford, led by Andy Rouse. It culminated in a tribunal before Round 6 at Oulton Park, where the FIA sided with Ford and ordered Alfa Corse to run the cars with the wings in the retracted position, citing that having to bolt on wings with 31 rivets was very much against the regulations . Alfa Corse duly packed up the trucks in protest and defiantly left the circuit.
After an appeal before the following race, a compromise was struck that stated Alfa Romeo could run the cars with the wings in the extended positions until 1 July 1994, after which they would have to be run retracted for the rest of the season. This ruling, alongside the competition from BMW, Ford and Renault developing their own ‘loophole’ homologation specials and therefore their own aero kits for their racing cars meant that Tarquini and Alfa Romeo only took one further win, with teammate Giampiero Simoni a further solitary race win at the end of the season.
In spite of this, Tarquini’s blistering performance in the first half of the season and subsequent unfailing consistency in achieving podium results saw him take the driver’s championship at a canter, with Simoni’s efforts enough to secure the constructors championship for Alfa Corse as well. Content with their work and conscious that the FIA was closing every loophole they could for 1995, including raising the road car homologation minimum to 25,000 examples, Alfa Corse switched its focus to DTM, leaving ProDrive to run an ultimately unsuccessful title defense with the 155 in Britain in 1995, which ended with Alfa Romeo withdrawing from the championship entirely at the end of the season.
This particular car is chassis number 90080, which was campaigned by Tarquini at the end of the 1994 season at Silverstone, where it podiumed in race one, giving Tarquini the Driver’s Championship, before wining outright in race two. In the last race of the season at Donnington Tarquini did not finish the first race but managed fourth in race two. It was subsequently used in pre-season testing for the 1995 season before being revised to its 1994 specification by Alfa Corse at Abarth in Turin before being sent by to Gabriele Tarquini as a gift from Alfa Corse legend Giorgio Pianta.
It naturally presents in exceptional great and original condition and is a true pleasure to behold in the flesh; one of the most iconic championship winning cars from one of the most famous eras of Touring Car racing. It is, of course, still in exceptional condition, and completely original and it is a real pleasure to observe it.