The 15th Tour of Sicily

April 3rd. As is traditional the Giro, di Sicilia started the season of "open road motor-racing, a form of competition that at one time was the essence of motor-racing, but which was superseded by the closed circuit type of event. Originally inspired as town-to-town events. such as Paris-Bordeaux, Paris-Rouen, and culminating in the ill-fated Paris-Madrid, it was left to the Italians to continue this long-distance type of event, with competitors starting at minute intervals, and the shortest time recorded between the two towns being placed first in the free-for-all category. It is the Italians who still organise the greatest of all town-to-town events, or "open-road" race, namely the Mille Miglia. Other countries have carried on the principles of the early days in the form of rallies, but, of course, in these speed is not an essential to winning.

The Tour of Sicily starts and finishes in the Sicilian capital of Palermo, just off the main square, and covers an anti-clockwise circuit of the entire island, With control points at the various towns, such as Agrigento, Enna, Syracuse. and Messina, the total distance being 1.080 kilometres. Opening the season as it does, the Italian firms and many of the Italian drivers use the Tour of Sicily as a training ground for the more arduous-and faster Mille Miglia, and this year both Ferrari and Maserati supported the event. Last year's winner, Taruffi, was again running, though-as Lancia have abandoned sports-car racing in favour of Formula I events, he was driving for Ferrari, using one of the new six-cylinder 3,750 c.c.-models, in preparation for the Mille Miglia. Supporting him was Maglioli, Another specialist for this type of racing, and he was driving a 3.-litre model Tipo 750S. In opposition was Musso, one of the rare drivers who can cope with this type of racing and Grand Prix racing, and together with Vittorio Marzotto, was giving the new 3-litre six-cylinder Maserati its first European outing. In addition there were 14 Maserati 2-litre sports models in the hands of private. owners, among the more well known being Giletti, Pucci and Maria de Filippis, making her debut in the spurts category after many successes in Gran Turismo with Lancia. Also making their first competition appearances were the pretty little Alfa-Romeo--Giulietta coupes, in substantial numbers, and many of the not-so-pretty little Fiat 600 rear-engined ears. One of the reasons that Italy produces so many good cars must surely be that the manufacturers know that as soon as a new model is introduced and sold to the public "the boys" will enter them for town-to-town races; in England new models are immediately entered for rallies, which may make just that difference. As is normal for these types of events the entry this time 159, was divided into Normal Touring, Special Touring, Gran Turismo and Sport, each group having capacity classes, and this year among the smaller classes there was quite an influx of French competitors, in whose blood there must surely remain some of the spirit of the heroic Gabriel.

Departing at minute intervals in the very small hours of the morning the entry set off on the sinuous course, it being reputed as having more than 11,000 corners. It was soon evident that the works Ferraris were in complete command and it was Maglioli who set the pace, with Taruffi losing only a second on him here and there; however, by the time they were about half way round Maglioli had gained only 7 sec. over the wily Taruffi, and they were both more than 10 min. ahead of Musso who was in third place with the 3-litre Maserati, the sister car of this make being way back among the 2-litre models. On the return along the winding northern coast road Taruffi began to speed up and he quickly reduced his deficit of time, and over the final stretches into Palermo he used the superior power of the. six-cylinder Ferrari and arrived with a lead of more than 8 min., having conserved his efforts until the last. Musso was a long way back in third place and Marzotto brought the other 3-litre Maserati into sixth place, behind two 2-litre cars.