The Targa Florio
Another victory for Bugatti after keen duel with Alfa-Romeo
By our continental correspondent
For the fourth time in succession the Targa Florio, the greatest road race of the year, has been won by Bugatti. This time the successful driver was Albert Divo, who is recognised as among the very first rank of French aces, and who handled his car with consummate skill in spite of very little practice on the course before the event. His time of 7 hours 20 minutes 56 seconds falls short of the record set up by Meo Costantini, the wizard of the Madonie circuit, in 1926, by only 11 seconds, and is considerably faster than that of last year’s winner.
The race, however, was no walk-over. Throughout the contest a terrific duel was waged between the Frenchman on his 2.3-litre Bugatti, and the Italian champion Guiseppe Campari on his little 1,500 C.C. Alfa-Romeo, who finished less than two minutes behind him in one of the closest races that the Targa has ever provided.
The new Alfa-Romeo, by its victory in the Brescia 1,000 miles’ race and on formula in the Essex club’s 6-hour race, as well as by this magnificent performance, has made its name beyond all possibility of question.
Behind Campari came one of his compatriots, Count Conelli, on his 1,500 C.C. Bugatti, only 17 seconds later in a race of 335 miles. Fourth place was gained by Louis Chiron on a 2-litre car of the same make, and fifth came the marvellous Czecho-Slovakian lady driver, Madame Junek, who was only nine minutes behind the winner.
The 1,100 C.C. class, which was over three circuits of the course, as opposed to five for the larger machines, was won by Riccioli on a 9 h.p. Fiat sports model, his average of 38.3 m.p.h. being better than that of the car which won the whole event in 1923. Second place was won by a similar car driven by Rallo; it seems that France will have to look to her laurels of invincibility in this class.
Two of the Bugattis, an Alfa-Romeo, a Maserati and a Salmson having been scratched, 37 starters were left for the race. The most dangerous competitors were obviously the official Bugatti team, consisting of Alert Divo on a 2.3-litre machine, Louis Chiron and Count Brilli-Peri on the 2-litres, and Count Conelli and the veteran Nando MinoIa on the 1,500 C.C. racers. Of the amateur Bugattisti, Madame Junek, Lepori and Huldreich Heusser drove 2.3-litre machines; Jules Foresti, Emilio Materassi, last year’s winner, and Nuvolari, 2-litres, while Countess Enisiedel, the other lady driver in the race, Verso, Villarosa, Dreyfus, Sciarma, Cocuzza, Nenzione and Inglese handled 1,500 c.c. cars. It was evident that the Bugattis, all of which, by the way, had superchargers, would have as their chief rivals the two 6-cylinder 1,500 c.c. supercharged Alfa-Romeos, driven by Campari and Marinoni. These racers were perhaps more business-like than elegant, as they consisted more or less of a seat on a chassis, of which half was occupied by a spare oil tank instead of a mechanic. Besides them, Silitti handled one of the old 2-litre Grand Prix Alfa-Romeos.
The other Italian team were the Maseratis, of which three driven by Ernesto Maserati, de Sterlich and Borzzachini, the well-known Salmson driver, were 2-litre machines, while Marano and Fagioli’s cars were in the 1,500 c.c. class. In the biggest class, Mocciaro drove an Auburn and Candrelli a Steyr. The 1,100 C.C. division was made up of four 9 h.p. Fiats, driven by Riccioli, Rallo, Fanelli and Vigo; Biondetti and Casano on Salmsons; a Sangiorgio driven by Ciolino; and two Camens handled by Sirignano and Esposito. The lastnamed cars are made at Naples, and have 4-cylinder V-type 2-Stroke supercharged engines of 1,036 c.c., and independently sprung wheels.
At eight o’clock on the morning of Sunday, 6th May, the first car was sent off on its long journey, followed at one minute intervals by the remaining 36, each eager to win the dual prize, the Targa for the driver and the Florio Cup for the manufacturer of the winning car. By the end of the first round it was seen that the race was going to be immensely keen, for 1 hour 26 minutes after he had been sent off, Louis Chiron was back at the grandstands, and three other cars’ times were within a minute of his. The order for the first lap was as follows (on pdf).
Already the duel between Campari and the Bugattis had begun, and already Madame Junek had proved herself equal to the best men drivers on the terrible Madoine circuit. In the 1,100 c.c. division, Riccioli (Fiat) led Biondetti (Salmson) by one minute. During the second circuit the battle became even more furious. Madame Junek achieved the marvellous feat of getting ahead of Divo, considered, perhaps, the best of all French drivers, and led into the third round, first of the whole race. Nuvolari’s Bugatti broke a piston and Brilli-Peri also was put out with engine trouble. In the 1,100 C.C. division, Riccioli still led, but the Salmson had retired with a broken stub-axle, and the second place was now taken by Sirignano’s Camen. Second circuit order (on pdf).
On the third circuit, Campari, driving like a demon, finally took the lead on his Alfa-Romeo, and Madame Junek still led the Bugatti contingent. This was the final round for the 1,100 c.c. class, and of them all had fallen out except two of the little Fiats. The final result of this class was, therefore (on pdf):
After Three Laps
The order of the bigger cars at the end of the third circuit was as follows (on pdf).
On the fourth circuit, the field began to thin out. Materassi, last year’s winner, withdrew his Bugatti, Borzacchini’s Maserati suffered from supercharger trouble, and Candrilli withdrew his Steyr, which, however, had never figured very prominently in the race. Foresti was held back by tyre troubles and both Countess Einsiedel and the veteran Minoia were held up after colliding with the retaining wall of the road. Campari, however, still led, but Divo was coming up. Order at end of fourth circuit (on pdf).
As Campari led into the last circuit, it looked as if Bugatti’s succession of victories in the Targa was to be interrupted. But such was not to be. In order to save weight, the Alfa-Romeos only carried one spare wheel, and on the last circuit, Campari burst his spare, and had to drive six miles on the rim to his next tyre depot. In the meantime, Divo made a final sprint which took him ahead of Campari and of Madame Junek, who was also passed by Conelli and Chiron.
Thus ended one of the most thrilling races ever seen on the Madoine circuit. This is Bugatti’s second win in the Coppa Florio since the Cup was re-presented by Peugeot in 1925, the other occasion being when Costantini won it in Sicily in 1926. Last year the Cup was raced for in France and won by Aries. The Cup is to become the definite property of whichever firm wins it three times.
The running of another successful race on the Madoine circuit is encouraging to all racing enthusiasts. While this race is run, motor racing cannot be said to be dead. It is only to be hoped that next year’s event will see some British entries.
An impression of Divo (Bugatti) on the last circuit will be found on our front cover