Durango have named 19-year-old Giovanni Venturini and 45-year-old Giuseppe Cipriani as its drivers for the 2011 Auto GP season.

Venturini finished second and third respectively in the Swiss and Italian Formula Renault championships in 2009, before finishing fifth in the Eurocup standings in 2010. The Italian had the chance to try out the Auto GP car in a test in January, impressing the team with his pace.

19-year-old Venturini leaps up from Formula Renault into Auto GP

Coming from F.Renault 2.0 the power gap with Auto GP was quite huge and I was very impressed during my first laps,” said Venturini. “Then I realized that with so much extra-power I could drive the car in a very different way from what I was used to, and I was frankly amazed by the package. I also had a very good feeling with the team, we immediately developed a good cooperation and they gave me the chance to work as a real pro, which is exactly what I want as my final aim is getting to F1.

“I know that I committed to a challenging Series and that it will be a tough season, but racing against experienced and skilled drivers will be good for me, and it's actually one of the reasons why I did choose Auto GP, together with Eurosport's worldwide TV Coverage. I will do my best and I hope to give Durango some good results.”

A successful restaurant manager, Cipriani has a passion for motorsport that has seen him race in many different categories. In recent years he has raced for Formula Palmer Audi, and made his Auto GP debut with Durango at the 2010 season finale at Monza.

“I have a longtime passion for single-seaters, that's why I'm racing,” said Cipriani. “So for me competing in Auto GP with Durango means committing to a big challenge together with my friend Ivone Pinton [Durango boss], one of the few men that can overcome me when it comes to passion for motorsport.

“Last year I debuted in Auto GP in Monza, it should have been a one-off experience, but immediately after the first free practice I was looking forward to a full 2011 commitment. Now I'm training very hard and I eagerly await the moment when the engines will be started again.”

Pinton added: “I have a long standing friendship with Giuseppe Cipriani, so having him in my team is a real pleasure, as much as having a young talent as Giovanni Venturini on the other car. Giuseppe and I shared some adventures both in racing and in real-life, experiences that created a very strong tie between us, a bond that was encouraged by the fact that we both face our daily commitments with a great deal of passion. On the other side I'm really eager to have Giovanni with us, because he is both a very talented and nice guy, something that makes working with him very easy. I feel that he has the potential to become a great driver, and I'm sure that we'll have a lot of fun on track in 2011.”

Auto GP boss Enzo Coloni commented: “Skilled and renowned teams are one of the keys to Auto GP's success, so I was very happy to know that Durango wanted to step-up to two cars. They did a very good job in 2010 winning races, and they have what it takes to repeat such results in 2011: Venturini is among Italy's best talents and I'm sure that Cipriani will be on the pace as soon has he will have some more kilometres under his belt.”