Motor SportJune 1932
THE TWENTY-THIRD TARGA
ALFA-ROMEO RETAIN TROPHY FOR ITALY.
EVERY year sees an increase in the number of motor races which are held, and every year sees an increase in the public interest in the sport. No new event, however, has ever challenged the Targa Florio as the supreme test of man and machine. The first race over the mountainous Sicilian roads took place more than a quarter of a century ago, and due to the efforts of Count Vincenzo Florio, this race has held its place in the world's classics in spite of the remoteness of the venue, and the difficulty and expense of sending a team to compete.
Gazzanica (Bugatti) closely followed by Chiron.
Every year that it is held the starters include the cream of the world's cars and the star drivers of the day. The reason is not far to seek. No other race carries such honour to the winning driver, while a make which has won this gruelling and difficult race is stamped for ever as one of the world's finest motor cars.
The very difficult nature of the course is demonstrated by the fact
that it suffers from time to time from serious landslides, due to its precipitous nature, and this has meant changing portions of the route on occasion, until the damage to the roads has been repaired. This year the race was run over a shortened circuit, as a result of a serious landslide last year.
Starting, as usual from Cerda, the course cuts across from Caltavuturo to Collesano, via Scillato, and is 72 kilometres round. The race was held over eight laps, giving a total distance of 576 kilometres.
Since its inception the Targa, Florio has been the scene of many epic struggles, and every winner has thoroughly deserved his victory. If we look back over the races of the last ten years, we find that each has been notable in some way, which distinguishes it from all others, for those who witnessed it or were interested in it.
In 1921, over the Short Madonie circuit, the race was marked by the victory of Fiats, who returned to the scene of their former triumph in 1907, when Nazzaro won, and in the hands of Comte Masetti held the trophy for Italy once more. 1922 produced a terrific duel between Masetti, this time on a Mercedes, and Goux on a Ballot, resulting in another victory for Masetti. In 1923 the race went to Sivoeci on an Alfa-Romeo after a good fight with a Steyr. Mercedes scored again in 1924 in the hands of Werner, after a great struggle with Masetti, Ascari, and A. Boillot. 1925 saw Bugattis to the fore, and Constantini broke the record for the course. Bugattis followed this up in the following year with a 1, 2, 3 victory, on the new 2,300 c.c. car with Constantini, Minoia, and Goux. Bugatti scored again in 1927, after a gruelling race, with a 2-litre driven by Materassi, and continued their wonderful run of victories in 1928 when Divo on a 2,300 c.c. supercharged car won from 37 starters, and broke the course record, while Minoia, who was second on a similar car, broke the lap record. In 1929 Divo again won and this concluded the series of Bugatti
victories, the next year's race going to Italy, with Varzi at the wheel of a 2-litre Alfa-Romeo.
Last year, owing to landslides, the course was altered to the Long Madonie circuit, when victory went to Nuvolari on the new 2,350 c.c. Alfa-Romeo, with Borzacchini second on a 1,750 c.c. car. The race was run under appalling weather conditions, and the Alfas scored by having wings. Varzi fought a lone battle for Bugatti and finished third, being unable to see properly owing to lack of wings.
Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo) flashing by. He ran into second place after a brilliant drive.
This year the runners for the short circuit being used were the following :
1. D'Ippolito (Alfa-Romeo).
2. Gazzanica (Bugatti).
3. Rondina (O.M.).
4. Brivio (Alfa-Romeo).
5. L. Chiron (Bugatti).
6. Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo).
7. L. Fagioli (Maserati).
8. Ruggeri (Maserati).
9. Rosa (Bugatti).
10. T. Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo).
11. Biondetti (M.B.).
12. Ach. Varzi (Bugatti).
13. P. Ghersi (Alfa-Romeo).
14. Sciandra (Fiat).
15. De Maria (Fiat).
16. Bartorelli (Bugatti).
The start from Cerda took place in magnificent weather, and a huge
and wildly enthusiastic crowd watched the start, in which the cars left separately in their customary manner in this race, where passing is difficult and massed starts would be dangerous. The cars got away without incident, and there was a general feeling that the Alfa team were going to add another victory to their already successful season.
Including as they did last year's winner and second man in Nuvolari and Borzacchini, in addition to many other star drivers, they were chiefly opposed Chiron and Varzi on Bugattis and Fagioli, the Maserati ace. The result was one of the least closely fought Targas for many years, and towards the latter half of the race the result was merely dependent on Nuvolari avoiding trouble.
However, in the early stages the Bugattis were fairly close, and at the end of the first lap Nuvolari led, with Borzacchini and Chiron dead level in second place. The order and times were :
1st. Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo), 53m. 3 4/5s. 1
2nd. Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo),
Chiron (Bugatti) 54m 46s.
4th. Varzi (Bugatti), 55m. 3s.
5th. Brivio (Alfa-Romeo), 55m. 17s.
6th. Ghersi (Alfa-Romeo), 55m. 30s.
7th. D'Ippolito (Alfa-Romeo),
8th. Ruggeri (Maserati), 57m. 16s.
Following these came Rosa, Fagioli, Biondetti, Cazzanica and Rondina.
It was already obvious that the Alfas were going to be almost impossible to catch, and, Fagioli, usually the star of the Maserati team, and probably their only driver capable of winning, was dropping back, and in the second lap retired with transmission trouble.
Nuvolari and his Alfa-Romeo surrounded by and admiring crowd.
A remarkable feature of this race was the freedom from accidents, which on such a course might well be expected to occur. However, the skill of those who take part in this event is almost beyond the conception of the average motorist, and in spite of the length of the lap and the consequent difficulty of
memorising every detail of it, retirements were comparatively few.
For the next two laps Nuvolari kept up his pace and drew steadily ahead, the order after 3 laps being :
1st. Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 39m. 20s.
2nd. Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo). 2h. 43m. 35s.
3rd. Chiron (Bugatti), 2h. 45m.
4th. Brivio (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 49 in. 44s.
5th. Ghersi (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 50 m. 30s.
6th. Ruggeri (Maserati), 2h. 52m. 32s.
7th. Rosa (Bugatti), 2h. 53m. 1s.
8th. Rondina (O.M.), 3h. 12m. 58s.
The O.M. was putting up a very consistent race, and once more proved the reliability of what is really more a sports car than a racer. The Bugattis, however, were striking some trouble. Varzi retired with a smashed gear-box, and at the end
of the 4th lap Chiron, who had been having trouble with his front brakes, handed his car over to Varzi.
On the 5th lap Rosa left the road, fortunately without serious damage, but the leaders remained unchanged, and Nuvolari continued with marvellous precision till the finish when he was hailed victor by his cheering compatriots, and Borzacchini completed the Italian victory by taking second place.
The final order was as follows :
1st. Tazio Nuvolari (2,350 c.c. Alfa-Romeo), 7h. 15m. 50 3/5. Speed 49.2 m.p.h.
2nd. Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo), 7h. 21m. 10 3/5s.
3rd. Chiron-Varzi (Bugatti), 7h. 35m. 28 3/5s.
4th. Ghersi (Alfa-Romeo), 7h. 38m. 5s.
5th. Ruggeri (Maserati), 7h. 50m. 16s.
6th. Rondina (O.M.), 7h. 52m. 56s.