Renato Loberto is one of Australia’s most diverse, talented and respected figures in motorsport. Why diverse? Let’s take a look at the ‘hats’ Renato wears in one day: racer, test driver, driver trainer, engineer, designer, business owner, consultant, and international event manager. Talented? Does standing on the podium at Bathurst 12 hour qualify? Respected? Renato cites the success of a driver he coached as one of his fondest achievements. Perhaps we could add humble here too…
Praises aside, Renato is like most of you reading this article. He lives and breathes motorsport. If he’s not driving, then he’s designing, he’s training or he’s organising something to do with motorsport. He loves it so much he’s built his career, and his company around it. Locking him down is difficult, with his company, MotoKinetic, holding events every second day somewhere in the world last year. So, we made the most of an opportunity recently to find out all we could about the talented individual in question.
How did your passion for this industry kick off?
Growing up I never got to race karts like most aspiring racing drivers would, but I did go on hire karts at every chance I could, and spent time on trail bikes on acreage. At 15 we got a Formula Vee, and I started testing and racing mainly at Lakeside, then QLD Raceway when it came online. I really had no idea about racing at that time, and had a bunch of schoolmates helping me as pit crew. We all kind of learned as we went. I had some really good results in my first few races, and learned a lot about racecraft, as we had one of the least powerful cars on the grid.
From that point I branched out into other Formula cars, and focused my time on one-make series’ to better hone my driving. I also spent some time in the UK chasing a racing scholarship and came very close to winning that against some of Europe’s best young talent. Between then and now I have done the one-off National series here in Australia as the opportunities have presented themselves.
Career highlights to date…
Winning is always nice – it’s what we all strive to do when we race, but I think to stand on the podium at the Bathurst 12 Hour this year in second place, after starting dead last in fiftieth was a huge achievement. Not only for us drivers, but for the whole team. It was also my first “start” at the B12Hr, after the car crashed out in Practice 1 in 2014.
In 2014, I coached a driver who went on to become World Champion in Gentleman Class in the Ferrari Challenge World Finals. I felt a huge sense of achievement with that victory for him, and to see him as happy as he was made me feel very proud to have been involved in his success.
What keeps you busy most days?
My company MotoKinetic consumes my life… I setup a business about 11 years to pursue my passion of motorsport as a profession, and it’s grown exponentially ever since. We specialize in automotive and motor sport consultancy, covering everything from running large scale automotive events such as the Top Gear Festival Sydney, the World Time Attack Challenge, the Australian Motoring Festival, to bespoke prestige events for Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Lotus amongst others. Next to events, I also spend my time managing race cars for clients, testing and developing race cars, and privately coaching racing drivers around the world. I’m busy!
Bathurst 12 Hour is where we last saw you. Tell us about it!
A little back story for you… In 2014, I was in the Vicious Rumour Racing Ferrari team (as I was this year). Unfortunately one of my co-drivers was a bystander in someone else’s accident and the car was a write-off in Practice 1. I didn’t even get a chance to sit in the car…
Heading in to the event this year, we were determined to make right the unfortunate outcome of the year before. It was shaping up to be a hard task though… We missed all of qualifying due to a hydraulic issue in some new brake hardware on a last-minute update from Italy, and had to start a the rear of grid – 50th position. We fought through the field to finish P6 outright and more impressively P2 in our class, behind the outright winner’s Nissan Global Motorsports, with barely a scratch on the car.
What do you like about the Bathurst 12 Hour?
I think the 12 Hour has just gone from strength to strength. This year saw a massive grid of current spec GT3 cars, with the world’s best drivers coming over to race. The livestream they have offered for the last couple of years has meant a massive global audience can tune in to watch it, and all of the drivers and teams I know in Asia, and Europe, aspire to one day race at the event.
The track itself is great – amazing views, very unique landscape, and you have to be 100% committed and focused to get the car around there quickly. It’s a circuit that challenges the drivers, the engineers, and the cars, and to do it for 12 hours straight is madness!
Tell us more about the Ferrari…
The car I drove with VRR is a 2014 spec Ferrari 458 GT3. All GT3 cars are based on a road-going production model, in this case, the Ferrari 458 Italia. One of the key differences is brakes though. The road car has Carbon Ceramic Material (CCM) rotors and pads, whereas the GT3 uses traditional steel rotors, as a performance and cost control measure. The rotors on the car are from Brembo, and we then have the option of Brembo and Pagid brake pads.
It’s great to have the V-Sport team present at major races like B12Hr. It’s always hard to know what your race brake wear is going to be, with safety cars playing such a big part in effecting running pace. To know V-Sport is there, and they have stock of everything we need is very reassuring. We actually made a rear pad change during practice this year as we were working on our biasing, and the V-Sport guys were a big help in getting that sorted.
What else do you use from V-Sport?
I’m a little over 6ft tall and that makes fitting in the Ferrari GT cars a little difficult with headroom. The Stilo ST4W Carbon helmet has a small shell, giving me extra space to make things comfortable. Aside from that, the lightness and comfort is fantastic as any driver will tell you. For endurance stints in the car, to have integrated comms, and drinks systems was a big plus for me too. We standardized that across our driver lineup this year and never had any problems for the whole event.
We spied you using our new Hang Air in the truck as well…
We invest big money in our apparel and suits are one of the biggest expenses. Keeping them in good condition, and also keeping them fresh between stints is important. When I first saw the HangAir Pro system being used by a driver in Asia I was amazed at how well it worked. I used it after every session during the B12hr weekend. Every time I put the suit back on there was no odour, and it was completely dry. I spent almost 3 hours in the car in my first stint of the race, and the suit was drenched when I got out. Within 40 minutes the suit was completely dry and ready to put back on.
What do you like about your GoPros?
I use GoPro’s to provide a really high quality picture to review my own driving, and drivers I’m coaching. Given the size you can put them pretty much anywhere you want inside the cabin. My tip, use a skeleton case for optimum audio quality!
A busy year ahead… Where will we catch you?
I’m constantly growing the business, and we have heaps of exciting projects in development at the moment. World Time Attack Challenge is an event I became involved in on the management side in 2014, this event is seriously undervalued in the broader Australian motoring landscape, and 2015 is going to take it up another notch so expect big things at SMP next October. In 2014 on average we ran an event somewhere in the world every 2 days, and I spent nearly 13 days on airplanes. So you’re best bet to track me down is either at a race track or an airport!
Renato brings us insights from behind the wheel of awesome cars, and behind the scenes at awesome events on his website and social meida accounts. Check out his personal website here, Facebook here, and Instagram here. Special mention to Renato’s YouTube channel, which features cool GoPro videos too!
Finally, we’ll leave you with this awesome video of Renato testing the VRR Ferrari 458 GT3 at Phillip Island last week: