Testy fel­lows

Cars wouldn’t reach the road with­out test driv­ers. Here are the best of them

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Top Ten - Paul Gover

1 DARIO BENUZZI

Be­fore there was drift­ing, there was Benuzzi at Fio­rano. The vet­eran Fer­rari test driver was ca­pa­ble of slid­ing any­thing from the Ital­ian lineup around the com­pany’s pri­vate Fio­rano test track— how­ever, his real job was tweak­ing and tun­ing the cars to make them a su­per­car bench­mark.

2 VALENTINO BAL­BONI

How good was he? Lam­borgh­ini paid the ultimate hon­our when it named a car af­ter him. Like Benuzzi at Fer­rari, Bal­boni was the go-to man at Lam­borgh­ini thanks to his driv­ing skill and en­gi­neer­ing abil­ity.

3 AL­LAN MOF­FAT

The tour­ing car le­gend had a rep­u­ta­tion for end­less test­ing and tweak­ing to get the best from his cars, from his mighty Mus­tang through to Mazda RX-7s and Ford Sier­ras. Af­ter he re­tired he be­came a con­sul­tant and a driver trainer for BMW, and his lat­est work is on the hero cars from Ford Per­for­mance Ve­hi­cles.

4 ROB TRU­BIANI

No one knows Holden’s Lang Lang prov­ing ground bet­ter than Tru­biani, who has sub­lime driv­ing tal­ent match­ing that of Peter Brock. He’s never raced but he is re­spon­si­ble for some of Aus­tralia’s favourite driv­ing cars— and he does all his work in steel-capped safety boots.

5 GRAEME GAM­BOLD

Toy­ota recog­nised Gam­bold’s abil­ity with the high­est global rank­ing for its test driv­ers, in­clud­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to drive its pro­to­types on the Nur­bur­gring in Ger­many. He now puts Aussie tun­ing touches to the sus­pen­sion of ev­ery new Kia that lands here.

6 JEN­SON BUT­TON, LEWIS HAMIL­TON

Bri­tain’s two most-re­cent world cham­pi­ons have been put to work at McLaren— which also pro­vides their grand prix cars— on de­vel­op­ment of the road go­ing MP4-12C Coupe. But­ton and Hamil­ton were used for track tun­ing on the car, which comes to Aus­tralia later this year.

7 RU­DOLF UH­LEN­HAUT

His name’s faded into his­tory, but no one in the 1950s was bet­ter on new-car de­vel­op­ment than the chief tester at Mercedes-Benz. This bloke was as quick as Juan Manuel Fan­gio on a track and of­ten took Benz’s grand prix cars for a shake­down be­fore the races.

8 RICHARD PARRY-JONES

The Bri­tish en­gi­neer­ing chief and some­time rally driver was the man most re­spon­si­ble for Fords that are fun to drive. He whipped his own cars into shape and, when he be­came global boss, did the same for ev­ery­thing from the Fo­cus to the Fal­con.

9 ALEX DE VLUGT

The ti­tle of Ve­hi­cle Dy­nam­ics Man­ager says ev­ery­thing about his job at Ford Aus­tralia and the cars he helps to pro­duce. The lat­est Fal­con has his fin­ger­prints all over it, and even the Ter­ri­tory gets car­like dy­nam­ics to sep­a­rate it from the SUV pack.

10MARKREUSS

The for­mer chair­man atGM Holden is also a top-class en­gi­neer who also races a bit. He has the top cer­ti­fi­ca­tion at Gen­eral Mo­tors, al­low­ing him to drive pro­to­types on the Nur­bur­gring— and also took a top-se­cret hot lap in Garth Tan­der’s HRT V8 Su­per­car dur­ing his time in Mel­bourne.

Driven men: (Clock­wise, from top left)Tour­ing car le­gend Al­lan Mof­fat, McLaren’s Jen­son But­ton and Juan Fan­gio, who­did shake­downs for Benz

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