Born at Bassano del Grappa in 1958, the young Italian driver entered his first rally in 1978, although his first rally car was an Opel Kadett which he drove in 1979. In 1983 he achieved victory in the FIA European Rally Championship in the Lancia Rally. In 1984, he graduated to the WRC and finished sixth overall, his best result being second in the Corsica Rally. His persistence paid off two years later when he clinched his first WRC victory for the Lancia team by winning the Rally of Argentina.
The following year he achieved three wins in Monte Carlo, Argentina and Sanremo and finished second in the Drivers' Championship. In 1988 he won no less than four consecutive rallies - Portugal, Kenya, Acropolis and the Olympus rally in the USA - and became the first Italian driver ever to win the FIA World Rally Championship Drivers' title, the little Italian also winning the Sanremo Rally in a Delta Integrale.
In 1989 he repeated his awesome performance by taking the title again with a similar five wins in Monte Carlo, Portugal, Kenya, Greece and Italy. The last of his 17 WRC wins came on the 1993 Acropolis Rally.
He began a new career in cross-country rallying in 1996 and took a pair of victories in the T4 Truck category. He joined Mitsubishi before the recent UAE Desert Challenge and finished third overall behind team mates, Peterhansel and Fontenay.
The event was his first for the new team and he will be taking part in the Dakar Rally for the first time. He will also drive for Mitsubishi during the 2003 season.