Buon Compleanno a Gigi Galli!

First Henning, then Gigi! It’s only the third week of January, and we’ve already celebrated the birthdays of two of the most energetic, crowd-pleasing rally drivers of all time.

So what makes Gigi so wonderful, you ask?

He’s so passionate about rallying, in a hot-blooded Italian way. If he drives a good stage, he’s exuberant. If he drives a bad stage, he gets worked up and angry at himself. It’s ‘cuz he cares!

He even lets it all hang out in his driving style. Always sideways, always flat out, always wild. Sideways with a capital S.

Even his car makes me laugh. The ’05 Mitsubishi made these squeaky noises that might be the turbo wastegate (anyone know exactly?), but actually are laughing chipmunks.

And his 2006 car was banana yellow! But he man can pull it off. He owns that yellow.

His boyish charm. Wearing his heart on his sleeve gives him a child-like openness about him–he still makes funny faces at the camera.

The incident in 2005’s Rally Catalunya, when he set the fastest stage time (beating Seb Loeb!) and then drove his Lancer past the timing boards and off the cliff. The irony was that he was fourth overall because he technically completed the stage, but his car was stuck between a ledge and destruction.

It’s rather endearing that his English isn’t too good. He struggles to find the right word, but ends up choosing something odd or something half-English, half-Italian.

Funny fact: he used to ski competitively as a child. But (more irony here) he quit because he had no car for transportation to the competitions.
And how he can break his codriver’s nose in an “only in rally” moment in Sardinia, and still be lovable. He was really sorry! Plus, Giovanni Bernacchini seemed to take it all in stride.

Speaking of taking things in stride, he doesn’t stop trying, despite all these Solberg-like, freaky moments of bad luck. Even when Mitsubishi abruptly pulled out of the WRC, in a move that Gigi described as “a knife in the heart.”

We can thank him for one of the most exciting battles all season. 2006 Swedish Rally against teammate Daniel Carlsson. It was crazy.

It was so refreshing that, after getting his first podium in the 2006 Rally Argentina, it looked like he had no idea what to do. (Do I go this way? When do I step up to the podium…oh, now?) And then he dumps champagne down Seb’s back like a pro.

I really, really, really want to see more of Gigi in the WRC. Autosport has reported that he’ll contest the IRC (International Rally Challenge–a new, cheaper FIA-sanctioned tier that’s meant to be a direct training ground for WRC hopefuls). But Gigi is clearly worthy of World Rally, not the kid stuff. Can someone get the man some sponsors here?

Win the stage, wreck the car. Oops. Giving Seb a champagne shower

On top of a table AND kicking a ball. Odd. Courteous much? Turn signal on stage.

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January 17, 2007. Appreciation, Auto Racing, Mistubishi, Motorsport, Peugeot, Rally, Rallying, WRC.

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