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All-conquering combo returns to Sports Sedans

IT’S official: National Sports Sedans star Tony Ricciardello and his mighty Alfa Romeo are back.

The Western Australian has been confirmed for the 2023 season which kicks off this weekend at Winton Motor Raceway.

It follows a three-year break for the 44-year-old, who raced for Dick Johnson Racing in Super2, full-time for Kelly Racing in the main game in 2010, and made a total of six Bathurst 1000 starts.

Sports Sedans has always been Ricciardello’s bread and butter, though.

A mechanic by trade, work and family life has kept Ricciardello busy in recent years before piecing a 2023 program together.

“We never really gave it up, it was just sometimes when you stop doing something that keeps you busy, to fit it back into your life you have got to make time for it,” he told V8 Sleuth.

“Plus trying to support the kids, I’m coaching a soccer team and doing the go-kart thing, I have got four kids so keeping them busy.

“It’s one of those things, you never really lose the drive.

“Sometimes when you have been doing it for that long you just need a break I guess… it’s good to come back fresh.

“The hard work is done now so we’ll get ready for the first round and it should be a pretty exciting year as well, later in the year there’s going to be some good race meetings.”

Beyond Winton, the series will head to Queensland Raceway and Sydney Motorsport Park before supporting the Repco Supercars Championship at the Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 500.

Ricciardello noted he has continued to develop the Alfa but is anticipating a new challenge in the form of tyres.

“We haven’t run the Kumhos before, we were on the Hankooks back then, so the other guys have had a little bit of a headstart and done some testing and a couple of years on those tyres,” he said.

“So there’s a little bit of catching up to do on that side of things but we’re not there to make numbers up, we’re there to have a crack and we have got to make sure that we’re switched on and ready to go.”

As for why Sports Sedans has been so good to him – to the tune of a dozen championships – Ricciardello’s explanation was rather simple.

“I enjoy the mechanical side of things and we keep developing it,” he said.

“It hasn’t been all roses, don’t get me wrong, there have been tough times as well in the category but I guess the never-give-up mentality, everything has to be perfect, and just we’re not scared to have a crack and keep pushing.

“It’s easy to give up on different things in life; when you have a passion for something you have just got to keep fighting away.

“I guess being comfortable in the car and really being at one with it is an important thing and enjoying it as well.

“I think sometimes back in the day with the V8s, some of that enjoyment probably wasn’t there with things behind the scenes, but these days with V8s it’s very even across the board.”

The Winton SpeedSeries event starts on Friday, June 9.

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