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Pier-Francesco Chili profile

By Dan Moakes
June 20 2005

Pier-Francesco Chili
nationality • Italian
born • 20 June 1964
grand prix début • 1985
world superbike début • 1995

Pier-Francesco ‘Frankie’ Chili seems to have been around forever, and has raced against an impressive list of riders, including many of the 500cc, 250cc and Superbike world champions of the last two decades. Known as a star Superbike racer in recent years, Frankie also has eight full seasons of Grand Prix racing under his belt, with race wins in two classes, and he remains a very popular rider. A major championship title has eluded him so far, but the hunger to keep on racing is obviously there, and he believes that a switch to the Honda FireBlade is the way forward for 2005.

Made racing début in Formula TT4, with a 125cc Malanca; in the early days, Chili was encouraged by his uncle, Pierluigi Aldrovandi, who was European 125cc Champion in 1981

Italian Junior 125cc Champion, with MBA; began military service

6th in European 125cc championship, with MBA - won in France, second in Germany; concluded military service

European 125cc Champion, with AEB - on podium for all six races, winning four; raced in the Italian Senior championship - two podium finishes; Grand Prix début, with AEB, at San Marino

1986 HB Suzuki
Following a 1985 test in Australia, Chili was hired to race for Roberto Gallina’s 500cc Grand Prix team, with a Suzuki in HB colours. The bike was not a match for the dominant Yamahas, and a solitary works Honda, but Frankie ended up top Suzuki scorer, with points in three of eight races he attended. His best finish was sixth in the wet Belgian race, and he was ranked tenth equal for the season, with eleven points

1987 HB Honda, number 10 Honda
The Gallina team switched to a semi-works three-cylinder Honda for 1987, with Chili a regular points scorer, and making the top ten on the grid six times. His two best results again came in wet conditions, which helped cancel out any power deficit seen elsewhere. He was fourth in Japan, and second in France, and scored 47 points for eighth overall

1988 HB Honda, number 8 Honda
Staying with the same team, 1988 saw Chili progress to a V4 Honda, on which he put together a consistent run of results. These included ten in the top eight, and a best of fourth at the Czech GP. He rarely qualified outside the top ten, and was a best of sixth at three venues. His score of 110 points placed him ninth in the table, just behind double race winner Kevin Schwantz
Also crowned Italian 500cc Champion

1989 HB Racing Team, number 9 Honda
The 1989 season was Frankie’s best so far in the 500 class, and he finished it sixth in the points, but it also saw some controversy. Political turmoil was the background that saw most of the works riders withdraw from the Italian GP at the last minute, when it rained suddenly at the dangerous Misano track. HB’s riders were obliged to take the re-start, which Chili duly won, but he took no pleasure in the victory, and lost some respect among other riders. Elsewhere, he picked up a fourth, two fifths and three sixths, and set fastest lap in Australia, as well as making the front row on occasions. His score was 122 points
Also crowned Italian 500cc Champion

1990 La Cinq/ROC, number 5 Honda
Moving to Serge Rosset’s Honda team, Chili started out by qualifying in the top six in six of seven races, finishing third in the US, and fourth in Austria. But an injury sustained in Belgium upset the second half of the season, and he dropped from seventh in the points to eleventh, with a final total of 63
Also crowned Italian Open Champion

1991 Iberna Aprilia/Valesi Racing, number 9 Aprilia
For 1991, Frankie switched to a 250cc Aprilia, becoming a front row regular, and taking pole in the Netherlands. He was second fastest man in the Assen race, which he won, and this followed a third place at Misano. Other top eight results placed him seventh overall, with 107 points
Also crowned Italian 250cc Champion

Frankie Chili, Hungaroring 1992 - photo by Elliot L Doering
Frankie Chili in 1992 - photo by Elliot L Doering

1992 Telkor Valesi Racing, number 7 Aprilia
Further progress meant four pole positions in 1992, and this time Chili won races in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, two more than new team-mate Max Biaggi. A second and two thirds helped Frankie onto 119 points, which was good enough for a best in Grands Prix of third in the final table

1993 Telkor-Yamaha Valesi, number 3 Yamaha
With his team switching to Yamaha, Frankie wasn’t quite on the pace he’d managed with Aprilia. Nevertheless, he was a consistent finisher in the lower ranges of the top eight, and with a best result of fourth in Britain. He scored 106 points, making him ninth equal, but novice team-mate Tetsuya Harada took seven podiums on his way to the title

Frankie did not race in 1994

1995 Team Gattolone, number 27 Ducati
Having done eight years in GP racing, Chili now found a new home in World Superbike racing, with a works-supported Ducati 916. His starts tended to be on the slow side, and there were some crashes, but at Misano’s second round he was fourth twice, adding two seconds and a third, plus a popular home win at Monza, his eighth start in the series. He scored 160 points, and eighth overall, but his pace was obvious, and only inconsistency stopped him finishing higher up the table
Also raced as a 500cc GP wildcard, for Cagiva Corse, taking the number 71 bike to third on the grid, and finishing tenth

1996 Gattolone, number 7 Ducati
Continuing with the 916, Frankie’s 1996 season saw him secure eleven finishes in the top five, including wins at Monza and Brands Hatch. Again there were some no-scores, although not so many, and this resulted in sixth place in the final table, and 223 points. He also sat on pole in Germany and Italy

1997 Gattolone Racing Team, number 7 Ducati
The pattern continued in Chili’s third year with Gattolone, now with a works Ducati, and this time three wins came at the familiar venues of Misano, Monza and Brands Hatch. There were also three more poles, and a total of ten finishes in the top six helped him onto 207 points, and seventh overall

1998 Ducati Corse ADVF, number 7 Ducati
1998 saw Frankie brought into the factory Ducati team, and he started by getting top five results in five of six starts, before taking the first of five race wins, to which he added two poles. Lying fourth, just 31 points behind series leader Troy Corser, with three races to go, Chili famously crashed on the last lap at Assen. Blaming the riding tactics of Carl Fogarty, the pair came to blows. The English rider went on to take the crown, with Frankie staying down in fourth, 59 points adrift on 298

1999 Alstare Corona Extra, number 7 Suzuki
Not having got into the top three for ’98, Chili lost his chance of staying with Ducati. He found a new home with Suzuki and the GSX-R750, which he put on pole at Donington Park. Suzuki had won just three races in eleven years, and their best overall performance had been eighth, with Jamie Whitham in the past two years. Chili broke into the top five from race six, then got onto the podium twice at Monza, adding four more that included a win each in Austria and Germany. 251 points placed him sixth in the final table

2000 Team Suzuki Alstare Corona Extra, number 7 Suzuki
The partnership with Suzuki moved on a step in 2000, and Frankie took the GSX-R to ten podium results in a very competitive year for the series. He was a popular home winner at Monza, although a mid-season lull saw him dip from second in the points to an eventual fourth. But this was easily the bike’s best season of WSBK competition, and Chili did a commendable job with the four-cylinder machine. He scored 258 points in total

2001 Team Suzuki Alstare Corona, number 4 Suzuki
By 2001 the 750cc Suzuki wasn’t really at the same high level as the Ducati and Honda twins, along with the Aprilia at times, and Frankie was mainly getting sevenths and eights to begin with. Things were different at Donington, where second and a win made him easily the best series regular on the day, and he had a run of top six results in the season’s second half. 232 points placed him seventh overall, but only just behind Ducati’s second works rider, Rubén Xaus

2002 Ducati NCR, number 7 Ducati
With a Ducati the bike to have, Chili switched to a 998 RS machine for 2002, in the NCR team. He didn’t have much luck in the early races, especially when injured in a Xaus-induced warm-up crash at round three. But he was back for Monza, finishing fourth, and picked up points throughout the rest of the year. Second at Assen was his best finish, and it marked his 45th podium in the series. A final points tally of 167 put Chili eighth overall

2003 Team PSG-1, number 7 Ducati
Frankie carried on with the 998 RS and, with Team PSG-1 set up around him, was a frequent front row starter on the Ducati, including his ninth WSBK pole at Assen. Luck wasn’t always on his side, but he finished third on five occasions, second in Germany and won race one in the United States. 197 points kept him in the top eight for the ninth year running, this time in P7

Frankie Chili 2004 - photo by Raceline Photography
Frankie Chili in 2004 © Raceline Photography

2004 PSG-1 Corse, number 7 Ducati
With the enforced switch to Pirelli tyres, Chili preferred the old 998 to the widely used 999 Ducati, but his pace was anything but hampered. Six front row starts included another pole at Assen, and this time Frankie scored heavily from the first race. In fact, he was twenty points clear of the next man as they arrived at Monza for round four. Coming off the back of a peerless victory at Misano, Frankie’s luck went sour at his other home track, but he had got on the podium for the ninth time going into the final two rounds, and he comfortably maintained fifth overall, with 243 points in total

2005 Team Klaffi Honda, number 7 Honda
Following an encouraging 2004 début for the 1000cc Honda FireBlade, Chili wanted one for his eleventh crack at the WSBK crown. Team PSG-1 had other ideas, announcing a deal to run Kawasakis, and so their 40-year-old star rider had to move on. Even so, he cannot be counted out in 2005

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