Wizard of OZ: Andrea Bernoni

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Andrea Bernoni has petrol running in his veins, literally! The son of OZ CEO Claudio Bernoni shares his thoughts on OZ’s presence in Asia, and describes to REV his perfect car for hardcore rally racing!

Good day! Tell us more about your responsibilities with OZ
Hello everyone! I am Andrea Bernoni, Business Development Manager of OZ for Asia. My job involves visiting different Asian countries, in order to improve our market share; this allows me to get involved in sales, marketing, product development and provide technical training to our customers.

What inspired you to become part of the OZ Racing family?
This is a difficult question, as I was born into it (my father is the CEO of OZ). It is my passion for cars and racing, however, that made me decide to stay. One of my fondest memories is when I got to sit next to Carlos Sainz, my idol at the time, in his 1991 WRC Toyota Celica – equipped with OZ wheels – at the rally of Sanremo; I was 3 years old.

I started experiencing work in OZ when I was 15, first in our warehouse and shipping department and later with the assembly of modular wheels, more a craftsman work than an industrial process. I have experienced many departments since then and my passion has only grown stronger; I am proud to witness what OZ has achieved till today in both motorsports and the aftermarket industry.

To some of the drivers, wheels are purely for aesthetic purposes. But we’re sure there’s more to it! What modern day cutting-edge technologies are used nowadays to ensure a light, yet sturdy wheels?
Design has always been a very important factor in the choice of wheels, especially for Singaporean users. We should, however, pay even stricter attention to the technical side, as it affects both performance and safety. An OZ wheel is ‘born’ in our Tech Lab, where our engineers – the same ones who work on our Formula 1, WRC and WEC wheels, to name a few – start designing the wheel and determine its technical characteristics and manufacturing process. It is our direct technological exchange with the toughest motorsports in the world (F1, WRC, WEC, RallyX, WTCC, etc.) that allow us to guarantee the optimal lightness and rigidity of every OZ wheel, regardless of whether it is forged, flow-formed or casted.

Every OZ wheel undergoes the strictest quality testing, both according to German TUV and our even more demanding internal standard. My favourite OZ test is the LBF biaxial machine, which puts the wheel through the dynamic stresses it would experience on the Nurburgring, for 10,000 km.

What is your dream car, and what aftermarket enhancement would you include on it?
I have always been a big fan of WRC and the ability with which the cars can handle any road or atmospheric condition at full speed. Therefore, I would have to say a 2001 Impreza WRX STI Prodrive edition. The first modification would be a set of forged OZ wheels we are developing for 2016, together with a coilover kit (and sway bars), semi-slick tyres and track-spec brake pads (together with some custom brake ducts). I would then proceed to bolt-in a rollcage, WRC-stlye racing seats, harnesses and a steering wheel. The final touch would be a more track-friendly aftermarket brake kit and some performance upgrades (ECU, filter and full exhaust). Something that really could not miss is anti-lag, because blasting down a mountain road (in the snow) in a back-firing monster should be compulsory in life!

What are your thoughts on the tuning industry in Europe, as compared to Asia?
When talking with my Europe colleagues I always find the differences quite amusing, especially when we start ‘fighting’ about which application is best for a car. Europe has always been very famous for tuning, Germany in particular. In Asia, I am happy to say that tuning still seems to be popular, maybe also because of the strong Japanese influence. If we take Singapore, I am happy to see that despite the extremely high price of cars, people still take great pride in owning and modifying them.

Another major factor are regulations; in the past tuning was illegal in many European countries including, surprisingly, Italy. I am happy to see that in Europe, but also in Asian countries (e.g. China) governments are trying to make more detailed regulations, so that everyone can enjoy tuning their car in a safe way and with homologated products. I am looking forward to see how the industry keeps developing in both continents and the opportunities it will create.

OZ, as it has done since 1971, will continue to bring high-performance wheels to car enthusiasts all over the world!

Photos: OZ

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