The inaugural FIA Motorsport Games will be a special occasion for every competitor who takes part, but for those representing Italy there will be the added pride of racing in the colours of the host nation.
Rome and the nearby Vallelunga Circuit will stage the maiden running of the multidisciplinary event, placing the FIA Motorsport Games in a country with impeccable racing heritage. From major manufacturers to iconic circuits and legendary drivers, Italy ranks among the sport's powerhouses.
Tickets are available free of charge, meaning there will be plenty of local fans flying the tricolore at Vallelunga. And, with entries in five of the six categories, there will be plenty of opportunities for the hosts to make an impression on the medal table. Backed by the Automobile Club of Italy, the country will be represented in the GT Cup, Touring Car Cup, Drifting Cup, Karting Slalom Cup and Digital Cup at the 1-3 November event.
In the GT Cup, father-son duo Gianluca and Giorgio Roda will fly the Italian flag with a Ferrari 488 GT3 run by the renowned AF Corse outfit. Hailing from Como in the northwest region of Lombardy, both drivers have earned success independently and joined forces to secure the 2018 European Le Mans Series title. Now they will compete for gold with the quintessentially Italian combination of AF Corse and Ferrari.
"I am very proud to be able to represent Italy in the first FIA Motorsport Games with my dad,” commented 25-year-old Giorgio. "We will do our best to honour Italy, competing at home, but above all with a car that has always been synonymous with Italian style. Racing with a Ferrari and representing Italy is every driver's dream."
Italy's Touring Car Cup contender also hails from the Lombardy region, with Iseo-born Enrico Bettera preparing to tackle the event in an Audi RS 3 LMS.
The experienced Bettera has spent the past few seasons competing in his domestic TCR series, capturing two victories this term and taking a podium finish when the championship visited Vallelunga in September. That added local knowledge could prove crucial as he goes in search of a medal on home soil.
"I am delighted to be part of this first edition of the FIA Motorsport Games," said Bettera. "It is an honour and a source of pride to be able to represent Italy.
"We know Vallelunga quite well," he added. "We will have to deal with professionals of international level like [Luca] Engstler for Germany and [Tom] Coronel for the Netherlands, but in our way we will try to do our best."
Milan native Federico 'The Sheriff' Sceriffo will head to Rome to represent Italy in the Drifting Cup. Since making his debut in 2004 he has competed in Japan, China and the United States, racking up some 15 years' worth of experience.
With this in mind, Sceriffo has been talked about as Italy's strongest hope of capturing a gold medal. He does face one additional challenge, however: the FIA Motorsport Game will represent his first competitive outing at the wheel of the Toyota GT 86.
"I think this new format is very interesting and I am very honoured to represent Italy, especially at home in front of our audience," said Sceriffo. "I will come to Vallelunga with the Toyota that I will try for the first time, so there is also excitement for this baptism.
"I want to do my duty and bring home the gold medal. There will be valid opponents, such as the Russian, Fedorov, and the Swiss, Meyer, but everyone will look to us with attention and expectation."
In the Karting Slalom Cup, Italy will field Emma Segattini and Paolo Gallo, both of whom are 15 years old and come from the Veneto region. Hailing from Monselice, Gallo has competed in the prestigious CIK-FIA World Championship this term and demonstrated impressive speed. Verona native Segattini has been active in Italian domestic karting, establishing herself as the nation's best young female driver and competing for the Rotax Junior Championship until the final round.
"Participating in the FIA Motorsport Games will be a unique experience and the excitement is great," said Gallo. "Personally, I don't know the slalom format as well as the other participants, but I'm motivated. We will try to refine the driving style with Emma so as to give the maximum in the race."
Finally, Stefano Conte will tackle the Digital Cup in Italian colours. Better known in sim racing circles as 'IlConteSky_GTExD', he will travel to Rome from Parabita in the Lecce region, making Conte the host nation's southernmost representative.
He comes with plenty of experience, having already taken part in several world-class competitions with Gran Turismo 5, Gran Turismo 6 and Gran Turismo Sport, while at the national level he has shown his skills in ProjectCARS2, Assetto Corsa and the Codemasters Formula 1 series. In short, he is a veteran of the international scene and a definite contender to capture a medal for the host nation.
"I'm really euphoric about this possibility that was given to me," said Conte. "It will be a special occasion for me to represent all the passion and dedication of Italian sim racing. The chance to make history in this first edition of the FIA Motorsport Games happens once in a lifetime, and I will give my best to honour our flag and our entire sim racing category!"
The inaugural FIA Motorsport Games will launch next Thursday (31 October) with a parade of cars through Rome and the event's opening ceremony. On-track activity begins on Friday and will culminate on Sunday, after which the winners will be celebrated and the highest-scoring National Sporting Authority will receive the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games trophy. Team Italy will certainly be hoping that home advantage can tip the balance in their favour as they persue this objective.