The 1925 Italian Grand Prix was this nobleman’s glory day – leading Alfa Romeo to a famous victory on home soil. Count Gastone Brilli-Peri may not rank among the greats, but he added welcome character to this colourful sport.
Scarred in an accident while competing on motorcycles, he switched to cars in 1920 and his Fiat was second in the Circuito di Mugello in 1922. That event provided him with his first major race win just a year later, now driving a works Steyr VI Klausen.
Alfa Romeo win the World Championship
It was when Brilli-Peri joined Alfa Romeo in 1925 that he received national acclaim. His P2 retired from the Belgian GP and was withdrawn out of respect at Montlhéry after team leader Antonio Ascari was killed while leading the French GP. But Brilli-Peri raised morale by comfortably winning the Italian GP at Monza after his team-mates had both been delayed. That clinched the new manufacturers’ World Championship for Alfa Romeo.
Brilli-Peri continued to compete with an Alfa Romeo P2 as a privateer. He seemed to have the 1926 Rome GP in his grasp, despite a late puncture, but was caught unaware when Aymo Maggi’s Bugatti T35 closed in and stole victory. He did win at Savio with an old Ballot and continued with that car in 1927.
Brilli-Peri joined Bugatti for 1928 and his T35C was second to team-mate Louis Chiron in Rome. The following season proved to be one of his most successful – winning the Tripoli GP with a Scuderia Materassi Talbot T700 and scoring further successes at Cremona and Tunis with the now-venerable Alfa Romeo P2.
He was back in the Materassi-entered Talbot to defend his Tripoli title in 1930. The Italian suffered an unexplained high-speed accident during practice on the road course to the south of the city and was killed on impact.