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Roberto Moreno: “Qualifying an Andrea Moda is up there as well.”

Submitted by on April 18, 2011

Blink, and you missed it

These days, Formula 1 teams talk of upgrade packages to enhance performance after every race. However, do you remember the days when a Grand Prix team would be the entertainment on a Friday morning – just trying to get through pre-qualifying at 8am?

Let me introduce you to Andrea Moda.

In 1992 Roberto Moreno, who had already had a podium finish with Benetton in Suzuka in 1990, and Perry McCarthy were team-mates for the squad born out of Coloni, and owned by fashion mogul Andrea Sassetti.

In 22 attempts, the team managed to qualify for just one race start. McCarthy often never even got to drive in practice. If you need a laugh, read Perry’s ‘warts and all’ book, “Flat out, Flat broke – Formula 1 the hard way.

The story is that the team had to field two drivers to fulfil its FIA entry, but Perry never really had a shot – and made his own T-shirts to say so. “Let Pel Out” was a phrase used often in the paddock….

His one proper chance was at his home Grand Prix at Silverstone, and boy did he hang it out. It wasn’t enough though, despite hugging the grass at Woodcote.

The team’s solitary qualification was scored by Moreno at Monaco.

“I will remember forever going out to pre-qualify the Andrea Moda in Monaco,” recalls the Brazilian. “The tyres in those days would do their best laps around the fifth or sixth laps. For us, after the fourth lap, the engine would overheat, because we didn’t have cooling big enough! We could never run that long.

“The engine would overheat, and the oil would be too hot. I had to stop on lap 4, to not blow the engine up. So I had given it my max in pre-qualifying before I even got the best use of the tyres.”

It was enough to get through stage one, and the first hurdle was overcome.

“I got to qualifying, and I went out early in the session,” Moreno continues. “In Monaco you always get the best times in the final laps, but I put the car 11th in the first 20 minutes, that was all the laps I could do.

“Coming into the pits, every team was out in the pits clapping at me, and that will stay in my memory forever.”

As the session went on, he sat and waited. The others went faster and he got bumped lower and lower, but he made it into the race, 26th, the final place on the grid.

The engine lasted 11 laps, far longer than he, or probably anyone in the team, expected.

The Belgian GP that year was the team’s last appearance, as the team owner was arrested. Moreno went on to a racing career in America, while McCarthy became the original secret Stig on BBC’s Top Gear, and wrote his high-volume selling book.

“Suzuka 1989 was obviously a great memory,” says Moreno, “but in achievements? Qualifying an Andrea Moda is up there as well.”

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