Gilles Panizzi Sumar
Born on 19 September 1965, Gilles Panizzi has been driving in rallies for the past eighteen years. With his brother Hervé as his co-driver, Gilles has the reputation of being one of the best driver on asphalt, which explains his "Tarmac Expert" nickname.
It all started in 1987 when Gilles made a noticeable rally debut at the Rally of Nice, driving an Opel Manta GTE. The next year, his younger brother Hervé joined him as his co-driver and the Panizzi brothers
finished second in the Cote d'Azur Rally League, once again in an Opel Manta GTE. In 1989, Gilles was elected 'Rookie of the Year' by French publication 'Echappement'.
Panizzi made his first steps in the World Rally Championship by competing in the 1990 Monte Carlo Rally. The Frenchman finished fourth in the Group N class, an excellent result by all standards. The rest of his 1990 season was marred by mechanical problems and on top of that Gilles broke his clavicle while driving the Lancia Delta Integrale HF, leaving him out of the sport for the next six months.
Gilles returned to the rallies in 1991, driving in the 'Volant Peugeot Shell'. The following year, he won that championship by winning the first five rounds of the season. That performance and a seventh place in the French Rally Championship helped him to join the official Peugeot Talbot Sport team in 1993. Panizzi clinched five class victories and later joined the 'Espoir Rally' French Team.
In 1994, Gilles Panizzi will involved in the development programme of the Peugeot 306 S16. The Frenchman drove that car in the French Rally Championship and won the national title in 1996 and 1997.
Peugeot returned to the World Rally Championship in 1998 and Gilles Panizzi made his gravel debut that same year. Panizzi drove the Peugeot 206 WRC in four rounds of the 1999 championship: Corsica, Finland, Sanremo and Great Britain.
2000 was a memorable year for Panizzi. The Frenchman won his first two victories in the World Rally Championship: Corsica and Sanremo, which confirmed his remarkable skill on asphalt. The following year, Gilles finished eighth in the World Championship, with a win at the Sanremo and two second places, in Corsica and Catalunya. Panizzi confirmed his reputation as the master on asphalt but was not able to do as well on gravel despite many participations on that type of surface.
The Peugeot driver accomplished his best ever season in 2002. Gilles won three rallies - Corsica, Catalunya and Italy - and finished sixth in the championship standings. He also succeeded to score his first point on gravel in Kenya.
2003 was the final season of a long collaboration between Panizzi and Peugeot. The Frenchman won his final victory with the French team in Spain and joined Mitsubishi for 2004. Panizzi became the Japanese team's number one driver, taking part to eleven rallies until Mitsubishi decided to stop after the German round to concentrate entirely on the development of the Lancer WRC.
Panizzi continues with Mitsubishi for a second season in 2005, this time hopefully at the wheel of a much improved Lancer WRC.