The passion for off-road vehicles, driving school, politics and the appointment in the FIA.
"I dreamed of the Dakar, I couldn't participate, I took it to Pordenone"
Tavella, the child who loved engines is now at the head of the world of Cross Country Baja
35 years have passed since he helped his father Giovanni to organize that Night Orientering, which took place on the bed river of the Cellina_Meduna. In between, a world test such as the Italian Baja (my third child), several cross-country races, some rallies.
Mauro Tavella, entrepreneur, born in 1965, has come a long way, considering that the FIA World Council elected him by unanimous vote to lead the Cross Country Baja Committee. A Pordenoneese, who started from nothing, mixing tenacity and ability was able to get to the head of the specialty at world level.
Let's start with a joke: does he already have his office in Paris, the headquarters of the FIA?
"Not yet (smiles). Let's see in the future"
Since he has reached the top, the question is inevitable: how did the passion for off-roading come about?
"In the early 60s my dad worked at the Aviano base. Then he fell in love with the Jeep. From 1975 to 1980, between childhood and adolescence, he only talked to me about this vehicle, with which you could do everything. 1980 he found an old 1943 Willys Jeep. Between 1981 and 1982 I helped him take it apart. It was rebuilt and it worked. He made his dream come true. I still remember the plate: PN43993. And on March 1, 1983, together with Bruno Bavaresco, Omero Nadalutti, Maurizio Boraso and Giancarlo Fedrigo founded the Fuoristrada Club 4x4 Pordenone, the association that still organizes the Italian Baja ".
Did you immediately become part of this mechanism?
"Then Renzo Pazienti arrived, Mr. Tulipano. I arrived as a participant. I won, in 1984, the night orienteering competition with a Renegade. I participated with my friend Andrea Vignola. With him, the same year, I graduated from Kennedy institute. Later my dad told me that I had to be the one to take over the event, but on the other side of the desk. Then came the Endurance, Piancavallo and the Raid of Friuli".
Until the Italian Baja in 1993.
"A race postponed three times: in May 1992, in August 1992 and in March 1993. On March 8 I went to the regional councilor Adino Cisillino, who denied me authorization. I was 28 years old. I told him I wanted to know whether or not in my life I could be a race organizer. He replied that I shouldn't worry, I could set up the test. He shook my hand. And he was up to his word. In May, in fact, they called me from Udine, I just had to bring the the duty stamp to put on the authorization. I made an incredible leap for joy ".
Is it true that the Italian Baja is your third child?
"Yes, because I suffered and rejoiced so much for this event. In December 1994 I received a guarantee notice. I was accused of having bribed the then councilor Tiziano Chiarotto to obtain the regional authorization decree to organize the competition. The sentence was then issued. not to proceed. In 2004, after a period in which the race had grown a lot, a few days before the start, the Region did not let us compete for environmental reasons. We left Sardinia, then returned to Friuli. But I also remember the fax I received from the FIA in 1993: we were among the candidates to enter the world championship. The roll of paper was advancing and, at a certain point, I saw the name of the Italian Baja. Fantastic ".
Thanks to his creation, he entered the FIA in 2011. And after 10 years he became president of the Baja Committee.
"Before, I was part of the Working Group for regulations and strategies, while since 2015 I have been a permanent member of the Cross Country Commission. Now I will have the global management of the specialty in hand. The first aspect was the Baja World Cup, to which it belongs. the Italian Baja. I then created the European Championship of specialties and, from December, the Middle East Championship will begin. I hope to be able ... to set up a trophy of identical value in South America ".
Will there be 25 people on his committee?
"Yes, representing four continents (Oceania is missing). I will work between Paris and Geneva, where I will go on five occasions a year. If I follow all the races abroad? I will try to attend live at least once at all in the course of my mandate, which will last until 2024 if an FIA president linked to Jean Todt is elected ".
Is it true that, first of all, you wanted to be at the start of the Dakar?
"Yes, but I didn't have the means to do it. So I took the Dakar to Pordenone. For the Italian Baja I spit blood, but I'm happy to have set up an event in my territory that brings enormous economic benefits. It is no coincidence that the various regional administrations, from that of Tondo to that of Fedriga, passing through that of Serracchiani, have supported me. Challenges are the most beautiful thing in the world and I want to win them. I am not interested in participating ".
Tavella is at the top of automotive policy. Do you aim to reach the top of the regional one as well?
"In 2023 I would like to run for the role of director. I would invest more time, but if I were elected I could only do it thanks to my wife. Tamara is my right hand in business. She is a woman that my competitors do not have. I've known her since 2001, she came to the driving school to get her motorcycle license. She hasn't paid for it yet, however (she smiles, editor's note) ".
The last question: would you like to find that Jeep Willys, from which it all started?
"Sure, I'd love to."
Interview by Alberto Bortolotto