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Pironi: The Champion That Never Was Kindle Edition
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From the outset you begin to understand a little of why Pironi's character developed as it did. Coming from a wealthy family that had a bit of scandal at the centre of it. Of Italian heritage, hinting at why he got on so well at Ferrari. In his early years he appears to be a bit of a hellraiser, constantly getting into trouble with the local Police, and not seeming to have a care for the consequences of his actions. This road racing often got him into trouble alongside Gilles in his Ferrari days, tearing up Italian roads in a 308 roadcar. This is surprising considering he had been involved in a collision with a drunk pedestrian who had stepped out into the road at night, killing them instantly.
As another reviewer suggested, you will notice there is a little bias towards Didier, which is to be expected as the author unashamedly professes to being a fan, however at times the gushing adjectives such as royal hussar get a bit much. However if you look past this the book is well written, if a little on the short side. You get the feeling this isnt quite as in-depth as say the Donaldson book is on Gilles.
With regards to the accuracy of the content a few parts made me question how thorough the authors research was. In the book he states that the video camera used to capture the fatal Villeneuve crash was a spectator cine, when in fact it was a TV camera, as evidenced by photo's from the crash site with the TV camera in the background. The author also incorrectly states that Gilles' funeral took place in the town of his birth, in fact it was the town he grew up in. It was also mentioned after Pironi's Hockenheim crash later that year, that his car was sitting on the tarmac of the circuit. In actual fact after the car had come to rest post-flight it was on the grass to the side of the track.
From reading other books Didier was known as a bit of a ladies man, so there was no surprise to read about this side of his character, and how he had begun to influence Gilles' wandering eye. However it was a bit of a revelation to read that a particular woman had had intimate moments with Didier while Gilles was in the same room playing a piano!
There is no doubt that both drivers got on well with each other, which made the fallout of Imola even more tragic, but as the author speculates, tragedy seemed to follow Didier and it was sad that after having his legs rebuilt he was to pay the ultimate price of racing with his other love of high power speed boats. Talking of which it was interesting to note that the F1 driver speed boat race on Lake Como in 1981, organised by Abbate, doesnt even get a mention, but then Gilles instead of Didier won the event.
In summary this is an interesting book on a not so well understood or covered driver, who would have no doubt been the first French F1 world champ had he not had his big accident. For those unfamiliar with Pironi, learning about his win at LeMans, political motivations, tendency to sweat, and his caring side will no doubt come as a surprise to his external persona as a cool calculating driver with an air of nonchalance.
Firstly this book is very well written, once started I found it very difficult to put down, even though we all know the sad ending.
The author has certainly researched the subject thoroughly and his early years are all covered giving much needed insight into the man himself.
Imola 82 is perhaps over simplified and does come across as slightly biased towards Didier (as expected) but perhaps having read Villeneuve's excellent book by Gerald Donaldson as well maybe the truth is somewhere in between.
All in all a very good read & highly recommended.