After the extraordinary adventure with the Lancia Delta Integrale, the engineer from Turin - and father of the 037 - found himself catapulted into a completely new sporting world. In the early ‘90s, the Delta was biding its time until retirement, and the company management decided to wager everything on the new Alfa Romeo 155. A car that wouldn’t have to cope with snow, ice and mud, but with the tarmac of major European circuits. Thirty years on, exclusively for Speedholics, Limone takes a trip behind the scenes of that unknown yet thrilling and gratifying challenge.
Photos courtesy of Sergio Limone Archive - Alessandro Barteletti Archive
Anyone au fait with motorsports history, whose favourite ‘poster car’ was the Lancia Delta Integrale, will have no trouble identifying the period of Sergio Limone’s career that best tells the story of the man and the professional. Seventy-three years carried lightly, the physique of a ballplayer and eyes that run as fast as the bolides he designed in over thirty years working for Abarth, he is one of the “heroes” who in the 1980s and early ‘90s helped Lancia to dominate the rally circuits. Today he still has the same curiosity as he had when, just thirteen, he dreamed of a future in racing cars. “But not as a driver. I never had that kind of ambition, it didn’t interest me,” he tells. “What attracted me, if anything, was to be able to learn the technique, how to design cars.”
More “Torinese” than gianduia cream, Limone has always preferred rallies to track racing. And he has never tried to hide this.
It’s a matter of curriculum, he would say today, as this is the field that offered him his greatest professional satisfactions (seven Manufacturer’s titles and six Driver’s titles with Lancia). But, as he explains, it’s also a matter of feeling: “I was lucky to work in years in which the regulations offered ample freedom of action. Creativity paid off. In those days, rallies meant unpredictability and improvisation. Today the great variable is the race conditions, but the rules are much stricter than in the past and don't allow designers to let their imagination run wild.”