Gabriele Tarquini and ‘Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportive’…

Posted: June 11, 2019 in F1
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(P Rondeau)

Gabriele Tarquini psyches himself up for pre-qualifying at Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil 23 March1990, AGS JH24 3.5 Ford DFR V8…

1990 was the battle of the giants.

Just McLaren departed Alain Prost went head to head with Ayrton Senna in Ferrari 641 V12 and McLaren MP4/5B V10 respectively. Senna won the Drivers Championship 78 to 71 points, the Brazilian was victorious on six occasions and the Frenchman five times. Their teammates, Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger were left in their wake.

Most of us can remember Senna’s biffo dodgem-car removal of Prost at Suzuka on the first corner of the Japanese GP, a tit-for-tat response to the Prost on Senna collision the year before on the same bit of real estate.

Tarquini, AGS JH25 Ford, Estoril, Portugal September 1990, DNQ (P Rondeau)


Tarquini, JH25, Monaco 1990, DNPQ (unattributed)

Down the back of the grid things were tough, nineteen teams contested the Championship that year- the ‘small fry’ included Larrouse, AGS, EuroBrun, Osella, Coloni and Life, all of whom had to pre-qualify and then qualify to get a start.

Henri Julien’s ‘Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportive’ commenced with his own racing activities in the fifties and sixties, building his first ‘Formula France’ monoposto, the AGS JH1 in 1969. AGS progressed through F3 and then F2 in 1978 becoming competitive in the final years of the class- and winning the very final round of the European F2 Championship at Brands Hatch in September 1984. Philippe Streiff drove an AGS JH19C BMW to victory.

It was no small achievement for the Heini Mader BMW M12 four-cylinder equipped cars- the class of the field were the Honda V6 engined works Ralts raced by Mike Thackwell and Roberto Moreno- first and second in the ten round Championship from Michel Ferte and then Streiff.

Roberto Moreno, Ralt RH6 Honda on pole alongside Philippe Streiff’s AGS JH19C BMW- Streiff won the Daily Mail Trophy from Michel Ferte, Martini 001 BMW and Moreno’s Ralt (unattributed)


Streiff points his AGS into Druids on his victorious Brands, Daily Mail Euro F2 Trophy run- 23 September 1984 (unattributed)

The team progressed through F3000 to F1 in 1986 and eked out an existence finally winning some points with Roberto Moreno at the wheel in late 1987. That year AGS were better placed in the manufacturers Championship than well funded Ligier and returning to F1 March.

Phillippe Streiff’s career ending, and paralysing accident prior to the start of the 1989 season was a huge setback- AGS struggled on with Tarquini performing very well and coming close to scoring points in Monaco and in the US before a rousing sixth place in Mexico at the years end.

Ken Tyrrell, Philippe Streiff and designer Brian Lisles with the 1987 Tyrrell DG016 Ford DFZ 3.5 V8 in March that year- sixth and fourth his best results that season. I have fond memories of his Australian GP performances- a wonderful Ligier third place in the first Adelaide race in 1985 I recall vividly-a career cut short by that awful accident


Ford Cosworth DFR 3.5 V8, Brazil 1990. 3493 cc 90 degree fuel injected V8, circa 620 bhp @ 11250 rpm

The 1990 JH24 and JH25 were powered by customer Ford Cosworth DFR 3.5 litre V8’s, and therein lay the problem- whatever the merits of the Michel Costa designed chassis, a ‘works engine’ deal was required to move up the grid. Easier said than done of course.

Tarquini made the cut in only four 1990 races, Yannick Dalmas in five- Gabriele’s best was thirteenth in Hungary, Yannick’s a ninth in Spain.

Into 1991 with the JH25B DFR Tarquini took eighth in Phoenix, but the money had run out, then owner Cyril de Rouve sold to an Italian duo who called it quits after the Spanish GP.

Tarquini also drove for Osella, Coloni, Fondmetal, First and Tyrrell in F1 and has since had a sensational career in Touring Cars winning the 1994 British Touring Car Championship- Alfa 155 TS, he was first in the European Touring Car Championship in 2003- Alfa 156 GTA and third in another 156 GTA the following year.

He won the World Touring Car Championship in 2009- SEAT Leon Tdi and was second again in a similar car in 2010, he was second again this time Honda Civic WTCC mounted in 2013 and won again in 2018, taking the World Touring Car Cup in a Hyundai i30N TCR.

Tarquini in JAS Motorsport Alfa 155V6 Ti at Mugello during the 1996 Int Touring Car Championship round on 29 September- Gabriele was 13th and 6th in the two races won by Nicola Larini, Alfa 155 V6 Ti and Bernd Schneider, Mercedes C Class


Getty Images, Pascal Rondeau, John Marsh

Tailpiece: Tarquini…



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