Florence, Italy, July 20th
There is argument among drivers as to whether the Targa Florio’s “Little Madonie” circuit is more or less difficult than the circuit of Mugello near Florence. Suffice it to say that each is close to 70 km. per lap over mountainous, twisty roads and presents a formidable challenge to man and machine quite unlike that of the domestic tracks.
This unique quality entices a strong entry each year from British sports and prototype cars, eager to meet the challenge.
This year there were no less than 27 British cars entered, ranging from Taylor’s Lola T70 Mk. 3B driven by De Adamich/Vaccarella, to the little Unipower of Forester/Martin. There were Chevron-BMWs for Tangye/Smith; Brown/Baker; Skailes/Bond; Morrison/Fletcher and Clydesdale/Hunter, while Mylius drove his solo. Garton and Mrs Denton shared an M/G.-B, as did Dawkins/Eade, both cars running in Group 6.
Richardson’s Ginetta G.16 suffered a practice accident and did not start. Jackson’s Nomad Mk.1 would not start, having fuel pump bothers in the heat. Le Sage’s Crossley-Climax 2.7 had to have its condenser changed on the line, but disappeared during the first lap. Konig’s Mk.2 Nomad stopped out on the circuit on the second lap while Crossley was driving and therefore robbed its owner of a drive. The Cox Spitfire entry of two cars was halved by a practice accident leaving only the Marshall/Britten car to start. Wheeler’s Sprite with Elan rear suspension was shared with Franey. Spero’s Porsche 906 suffered body damage in practice and further damage during the race caused its retirement.
Godfrey/Pigneguy shared a Mk.II Sprite, as did Appleby/Lucas, while Mrs Konig co-drove with Nigogosian in an MG version of the same car.
Other British entries were in the over-1,600 c.c. GT class, being Beeson’s Ferrari GTB, and the Porsche 911s of Davidson, Vestey/Sadler and Magulies/Mackie.
The race should have been a contest between the Porsche 908 Spyders of Toivonen and Koch/Dechent and the Alfa Romeo 33s of Zadra, Pinto/Alberti, Bordelli/Guigno (all running in Group 6) and the standard Group 4 Alfa Romeo 33s of Giunti/Galli (which made fastest practice time) and Dini/”Nicor” (second fastest). In fact, two works Fiat Abarth 2-litre “wedge”-bodied cars did far better than expected and the newer bodied (Group 6) car of Merzario led from the end of lap one to the finish, followed by its Group 4 sister car driven by Ortner/Von Lennep.
The Porsches and most of the Alfa Romeo 33s fell by the wayside and the De Adamich/Vaccarella Lola was well driven to third place despite time lost in the pits and lack of traction on the loose stones on the circuit.
Fourth place was gained by Werlich’s 906 Porsche on the last lap from Munari’s lightweight cut-down Lancia HF Spider. Munari had a fantastic drive but was hampered by several pit stops for repair of a broken seat. The first British car home was the JCB Chevron-BMW B8 of Baker/Brown, which achieved a creditable sixth place overall, third in its class.
The 1-2 victory of the Fiat Abarths was well received by the enthusiastic crowd who were somewhat scornful of the demise of most of the Alfa Romeos. Merzario’s drive was particularly impressive, since he managed the car single-handed for the entire race—no mean feat in the intense heat—to achieve an average of 77.475 m.p.h. for the 529.6 km. His time of 4 hr. 15 min. 55.8 sec. was nearly 7 minutes better than that set up by 1968 winners Bianchi/Vaccarella in an Alfa Romeo 33.—L. A. M.