Medio Circuito Madonie - Palermo (I), 19 November 1922.
4 laps x 108 km (67.1 mi) = 432 km (268.4 mi)
|1||Jean Chassagne||Sunbeam Motor Car Co Ltd||Sunbeam||DA 6732||4.9||S-6|
|2||Ferdinando Minoia||Officine Meccaniche SA||OM||469||1.5||S-4|
|3||Maurice Béquet||SA des Automobiles et Cycles Peugeot||Peugeot||174 S||3.8||S-4|
|4||Guido Meregalli||Società Anonima Autocostruzioni Diatto||Diatto||20S||2.0||S-4|
|5||Henry Segrave||Sunbeam Motor Car Co Ltd||Sunbeam||DA 6732||4.9||S-6|
|6||Luigi Lopez||Officine Meccaniche SA||OM||469||1.5||S-4|
|7||André Boillot||SA des Automobiles et Cycles Peugeot||Peugeot||174 S||3.8||S-4|
|8||Alfieri Maserati||Società Anonima Autocostruzioni Diatto||Diatto||20S||3.0||S-4|
|9||Paolo Arnone||Società Anonima Autocostruzioni Diatto||Diatto||20S||2.0||S-4|
|Felice Nazzaro||Fabbrica Automobili Nazzaro||Nazzaro||Tipo 5 Sport||4.4||S-4||DNS - Did not start|
|Giulio Masetti||Fabbrica Automobili Nazzaro||Nazzaro||Tipo 5 Sport||4.4||S-4 ||DNS - Did not start|
|Giovanni Caprione||Fabbrica Automobili Nazzaro||Nazzaro||Tipo 5 Sport||4.4||S-4||DNS - Did not start|
|Kenelm Lee Guinness||Automobiles Tabot||Talbot-Darracq||1.5||S-4||DNA - Did not appear|
|X||Automobiles Tabot||Talbot-Darracq||1.5||S-4||DNA - Did not appear|
André Boillot wins the Coppa Florio with Peugeot
by Hans Etzrodt
The sixth Coppa Florio had only nine drivers and four manufacturers at the start. Boillot (Peugeot) led the first lap ahead of Chassagne (Sunbeam), Béquet (Peugeot), the two OM of Minoia and Lopez, Maserati (Diatto),
Segrave (Sunbeam) and Arnone (Diatto) while Meregalli (Diatto) had crashed with his riding mechanic Giacchino tragically killed. After the second lap Boillot led ahead of Chassagne, Maserati, Béquet, Segrave and
Minoia, while Lopez and Arnone retired. After three laps Boillot led Béquet, Segrave, Maserati, Chassagne and Minoia retired. After Maserati retired, only four drivers were left starting the fourth lap. Chassagne
experienced more problems in last place which left only three cars to finish in time, the victorious Boillot (Peugeot), Segrave (Sunbeam) and Béquet (Peugeot).
The origin of the "Coppa Florio" is to be found at the 1904 Week of Brescia where a small race was held for the Florio Cup. Count Vincenzo Florio took part in a Mercedes and finished third after Lancia (Fiat) and
Teste (Panhard). The result of the race, but especially the large interest of the public and industry, inspired the count to stage a circuit race in 1905 and donate a challenge trophy, the "Coppa Florio" with a value
of 20,000 Franc, a very large sum at that time. The trophy was designed by the sculptor Polak Aine of Paris. The regulations required that seven Coppa Florio races had to be held and the trophy would go to the make
who achieved the greatest success. In case two makes after the seventh race would have the same claim, then an eighth race should be held in which the both contestants were allowed to start with not more than three
cars each. Until 1922, the Coppa Florio had been held five times. Every year another manufacturer had won, Itala in 1905, Isotta in 1907, Fiat in 1909, Nazzaro in 1914, Ballot in 1921. The 1922 Coppa Florio was
the 6th repetition and was held to free formula regulations, specifying a racing car category without restrictions of engine capacity.
The cars had to cover four laps of the 108 km Medium Madonie circuit, equal to 432 km, in use since 1919 and included approximately 1500 corners per lap through the mountainous Madonie region of Sicily. The narrow
circuit with its steep gradients was a true measure of both driver and car. The start and finish took place near Cerda train station just a few meters above sea level. The road led several miles up to Cerda village
at 273 meters altitude. From here the course twisted uphill to Caltavuturo at 640 meters. From this village the tight, twisting roads wound through the Madonie Mountains and turned back past a depot to refuel and
change tires in the town of Polizzi, 917 meters above sea level. Tortuous hairpin bends followed next, snaking downhill through the mountain village of Collesano at 500 meters and then on to Campofelice, just
50 meters above sea level. From there it was downhill to the seven km fast coastal straight where it was possible to use top gear. Then the circuit turned inland to the finish near the Cerda train station.
The Automobile Club di Sicilia organized the international open car race for the Coppa Florio in accordance with the ACI Sporting Regulations. Each car had to carry two people, seated side by side, with a total
minimum weight of 120 kg each. The maximum time to be classified was nine hours. The make that built the winning car would be the holder of the Florio Cup, until it would be put back into competition. A small
replica of the Florio Cup was offered to the car manufacturer. The winner received a large gold medal, the second, third, fourth and fifth a large silver medal. The riding mechanic of the winner received a small
gold medal, all other riding mechanics of cars that were classified, received a small silver medal.
The 1922 race was preceded by week-long rains which turned the roads into an unsuitable condition and disabled the drivers from any practice. The Italian Nazzaro had entered three cars which had a problematic start
and stayed away from the race due to the impossibility of sufficient practice. After the withdrawal of Nazzaro, it seemed probable also that Talbot-Darracq would not start. In such a case, the French industry with
Peugeot would face the British industry with Sunbeam and the Italian industry with Diatto and OM.
The journey of the British cars deserves a brief mention: Lee Guinness had a yacht with a well-equipped garage forward for six cars below decks. The two Sunbeams were put on board at Southampton and the three
Talbot-Darracqs were picked up at Le Havre with the team of mechanics and pit gear. After a strenuous trip through a rough sea, they reached Barcelona for the Penya Rhin Grand Prix on 5. November. Lee Guinnes in
the 1500 Talbot-Darracq was victorious while Segrave finished fourth with a damaged engine and Chassagne retired with a broken engine. The following day the ship left Barcelona for Palermo with Chassagne and Segrave,
the two Sunbeams, Lee Guinness' brother Algemon, and the great technician Coatalen on board. The Talbot-Darracq voiturettes were missing, due to the impossibility to repair them after the Spanish race and Lee Guiness
withdrew his entries. The dark grey Sunbeams entered for Henry Segrave and Jean Chassagne were type DA 6752 of 4.9-Liter (81.5 x 157 mm) 4914 cc 6-cylinder engines with 24 valves, built for the 1919 Indianapolis and
mounted in the low TT chassis with four-wheel brakes and the TT type bolster fuel tank. The two Sunbeam seemed too low and too long for the Madonie circuit with the same chassis that won the Tourist Trophy. The
weight of these cars was 1000 kg.
The two blue Peugeots were equipped with the same type slide-valve engine used at the Strasbourg Touring Car Grand Prix, mounted now on a much shorter and less heavy chassis. The Peugeots had 3.8-Liter four-cylinder
sleeve-valve engines for well-known French André Boillot, who had already won the Targa Florio in 1919 and Maurice Joseph Jules Béquet, who was born 10. May 1899 in France. He was a pilot in the French army and in
1921 had driven at Ernemont and Wimille hill climbs in a GP Alda with 180 hp Hispano-Suiza engine, information which was supplied by Reinhard Windeler.
Alessandro Silva informed us that Maserati had a special car with a 3-L Diatto engine in a Tipo 20 chassis. Only one example of the engine existed for the use of Alfieri Maserati. Meregalli's Diatto was a so called
Tipo 20S GP, made for the 1922 Coppa Florio, basically a souped up Tipo 20S. The two 1500 OM were both of the 469-type with the car of Minoia a racing version, looking identical to the Garda Circuit type.
These were the four manufacturers to run with nine drivers. Everyone could be the winner and no one was excluded from a possible victory, due to the very simple fact that all starting cars, small and large, had a
significant margin of speed-limit allowed by the circuit. But Boillot was considered the favorite with Chassagne and Meregalli also a good chance, leaving Minoia the role of the outsider.
On Friday before the race, activities at Termini continued at the placid rhythm of provincial life, and did not seem overly interested in the rapid raids of the nine candidates to win the Coppa Florio. Practice had
begun on Sunday a week before the race when Maserati and Meregalli tested on the circuit. In the practice session Meregalli gave the best impression and his strong pace over one lap suggested, that the previous records
could be improved. On Monday, the Sunbeam, OM and Peugeot teams arrived and immediately set to work although they were hindered from practice by pouring rain and strong-winds.
The cars and the drivers were stationed in improvised garages. The two blue Peugeots were equipped with the same type slide-valve engine used at the Strasbourg Touring Grand Prix. Boillot had great confidence in winning
if the car would not run into trouble. He feared a lot about the roads that except for the initial stretch he found as horrible as in 1918. Boillot spoke very well about his teammate Béquet, a new name in motoring,
but a glorious French aviator.
Chassagne and Segrave also showed themselves discouraged by the bad state of the roads. In his book "The Lure of Speed", Segrave described that some of the road surfaces over which one had to drive, were such as to
bring the driver of an ordinary touring car down to an absolute crawl. He said that a speed race for racecars on that circuit is impossible and he believed it was more suitable for a touring car race. Completely
ignorant of the character of the Coppa Florio race, Segrave on his first experimental lap with Moriceau, started at 3 in the afternoon, thinking it would not take much more than an hour. They had not gone far when
rain fell in torrents and it became pitch-dark with remarkable suddenness. As there were no lights, Segrave was reduced to crawling along with Moriceau walking in front in the middle of the road and the driver followed
the white blur of his overalls. Eventually they stopped at the nearest village. Wet and hungry they finally could sleep on hay in a barn.
Maserati and Arnone worked at the red three-liter Diatto, the type similar to the Autumn Grand Prix. Only Meregalli could complete some laps. When Maserati was asked for his impressions of the circuit, he replied:
"It is certain that Masetti's record (1h37m37s) will not be beaten".
Even at OM, the work was in full swing for the last touches on the cars which were identical to the victorious one of the Garda Circuit. Minoia talked about the conditions of the circuit, which had some deep ditches
up to the crossroads of Polizzi, also bad with mud and landslides as well as steep road damage up to Campofelice and the final straight which was bad and reduced the high speeds. The road-roller machines were working
with hope to improve the roads for Sunday, even if the weather, that cleared on Friday, would not get worse, it would be difficult to achieve a good performance.
On Sunday morning at 6 am the air was cool at the stands in Cerda. The damp and cold mist penetrated the clothes. Authorities, spectators, competitors in rigorous winter dressing began to arrive. Cavalliere Vincenzo
Florio who thought of everything had arranged all the services and communications in the most perfect way with the collaboration of his friends. There was no huge crowd near the finish as seen at the last Targa Florio,
instead, mainly passionate motoring fans were present. On the stands, the Italian, British and French flags were flying on a single beam. Garlands of orange trees were everywhere, it looked like in spring time.
The start time was approaching and Prince Patrulla, timekeeper at the booth, called the drivers half an hour before the start to the finish line. After a stop at the refueling posts, they arranged themselves in
front of the timekeepers. The Sunbeam of Chassagne in the leading car, like that of Segrave, was painted dark gray instead of the prescribed green. The Peugeot of Béquet and Boillot were blue, and the Diatto and
the OM were red. Only Béquet and Boillot were dressed in raincoats, the others wore sweaters. Meregalli had on a blue jersey and Segrave a blue combination. With the exception of Minoia's car, none had mudguards.
Maserati's car has spiked wheels and if it rained the Bolognese driver would have an advantage.
The cars started individually in order of their race numbers at intervals of five minutes. A few drops of rain fell at 7:30 a.m. when Petrulla gave the "go" signal to Chassagne. Next was Minoia in the small but
very fast OM ahead of Béquet, followed by Merigalli, the great favorite with Giacchino as mechanic.
Segrave left at 7:50 a.m. ahead of Lopez. Boillot, the winner of the 1919 race, was loudly applauded by the crowd. The bold driver clearly was bearing the signs of the terrible fall he made at Spa. Prévost, his
faithful mechanic looked at him with great confidence. Boillot started with a magnificent sprint and was flying to the first corner in his Peugeot. The departure of Maserati was also good, another formidable driver
aspiring to victory. His brother Ernesto was an affectionate companion. The last starter was Arnone.
Lopez stopped after about one kilometer and started again after one minute. One of the first news received was about the serious accident that occurred to Meregalli who overturned in the curve at Fontanarosa, 8 km
beyond Cerda. The driver and mechanic remained underneath the car. Meregalli with a fractured arm and serious head injuries, the young Turin riding mechanic Giuseppe Giacchino severely hit in the head and killed
instantly. This was the first fatal accident to happen on the Madonie Circuit.
Segrave who had started five minutes after Meregalli almost caught up with the Diatto, nearly ran into him and stopped. He and his mechanic Moriceau helped before they left, lifting the crashed car and the dead man
into a safer place where they would not be in the way for the cars still in the race, according to Segrave in his book "The Lure of Speed". In Polizzi, which was 47 km from the finish line, the positions were known,
because Boillot completed the stretch in exactly one hour, while Chassagne, Minoia and Lopez, took 1h0m2s, Maserati 1h0m3s, Arnone 1h0m4s, Béquet 1h0m5s and Segrave 1h0m9s. The time for the first passage approached,
announced by a firecracker. It soon became clear that the lap record was not beaten. Chassagne, Minoia, and Béquet passed and were keeping their starting positions. Maserati slowed down but resumed racing. Only
Lopez, who had managed to overtake Segrave along the circuit, was repassed by him in front of the stands. Lopez drove slowly and retired with a melted connecting rod bearing. No one else stopped at the pits. Arnone,
who had trouble with punctures, eventually covered his first lap in last place. He was unsettled by the accident of his teammate, and ended his race. He stated that the mechanic was dead and Meregalli was injured.
The 9-car field was reduced to 8 cars in the following order after the first lap:
The six survivors carried on for the second lap and the interest in the race did not fade. As soon as Arnone had arrived, a car left to go to the Fontarosa crash site. The uncertainty about the conditions of Meregali
and his mechanic continued. Chassagne, after having recovered a lot on the uphill stretch, passed by Polizzi, with an advantage of one minute in comparison to Boillot. However, Boillot, taking advantage of a brief stop
by the Sunbeam driver, immediately regained what was lost, and then made-up precious time. Minoia, who was in fourth position until Polizzi, stopped shortly after an accident that interrupted his good run. Segrave had
fallen behind after he struck a gulley which broke a chassis cross-member and caused the radiator to leak. As soon as he crossed the finish line, Béquet stopped at the pits to stock up on oil. Segrave stopped for fuel,
oil, to repair trouble with the spark plugs, all of which helped Maserati to gain third place. Minoia finished the lap slowly with a broken gearbox and retired. Amidst frantic applause, Boillot stormed past the stands,
having completed the 216 kilometers. He made his second lap in1h43m24s, which was only 15 seconds slower than his first one. The 6-car field was in the following order after the 2nd lap:
Finally, the organizers communicated a version of the tragic accident. The riding mechanic Giacchino, from Turin, just over twenty years old, was dead, close companion of Merigalli since the Milanese ran for Diatto,
painfully crashed on the spot, due to the car overturning when cornering. Meregalli only fractured his left elbow. The race continued with only five cars and was scarcely followed by the spectators, who were not very
keen on the fight between the four foreigners against an Italian. Boillot drove with great regularity which assured him the victory. but it was noted that Maserati improved his time. Chassagne, who stopped just beyond
Cerda, was overtaken by Boillot who in this way, in addition to being the first in the standings, became now the absolute leader on the road and had a huge advantage over his rivals. Segrave wrote that Chassagne stopped
at a village after a flying stone had fractured the oil pipe and most of his oil had been spilled on the road. He repaired the damaged tank but was short of oil. The only thing he could get locally was olive oil and
with that he filled up and the engine ran perfectly until he reached the pits at the end of lap three. He had lost second place which was taken by Maserati, who in turn stopped for seven minutes between Catavuturo and
Polizzi. He covered a few kilometers but stopped again in Collesano. Most cars were now out of action while the two Peugeots and the two Sunbeams remained in the race. As Segrave drove with the leaking radiator, a
3-gallon keg of water was carried on Moriceau's knees until a violent bump threw the keg overboard and the resulting damage rendered it useless. Then they had to deal with a puncture. Still Segrave threatened Béquet
who held second place after the delays of Maserati and Chassagne. During the third lap, Boillot increased his lead considerably and completed his third lap in 1h45m52s, which was just 2½ minutes slower than his
second lap. He was followed by Béquet, Segrave, Maserati and Chassagne. The order of the 5-car field was as follows after the 3rd lap:
Béquet stopped at the pits, adjusted the steering and took on oil while Chassagne changed two tires. It was announced that Maserati, who was feverishly awaited, had stopped at Collesano to refill with oil, but now the
race was certainly lost for him. Maserati was greeted with great applause when he arrived at the pits but he had to retire with a leaking oil tank. At the end of the third lap as Segrave stopped at the pits to get
water, he learned that he still had a chance of finishing high up as many of the other cars had suffered trouble and Béquet in second place was only two minutes ahead of him. Segrave left at once driving as hard as he
could. As the four remaining drivers began to attack the final lap, rain began to fall violently and the signaling service announced that it was the same weather condition throughout the course. Segrave drove with great
determination and gained four minutes on the Peugeot, which at the end placed him two minutes ahead of Béquet. Segrave recalled that Chassagne again had an oil pipe break on the last lap. The repair took very long but
he was able to complete the last lap with great loss of time. Boillot, who drove his fourth and the last lap in 1h56m42s, which was his slowest lap due to the heavy rain, crossed the finish line and was welcomed by a
long ovation. Boillot covered the 432 km of the route in 7h09m07.4s. After the arrival of the winner, who was covered in mud due to the road conditions, the crowd left the stands, without waiting for the latecomers.
Segrave, who managed to get passed Béquet, finished second over more than one hour behind the winner and was a few minutes ahead of Béquet who secured third place. Chassagne who had been delayed with an oil pipe repair,
exceeded the maximum time of 9 hours. To his embarrassment he found that when he crossed the finishing line the official timekeepers had gone home.
Meregalli arrived in a car, transported to the stands; he cried bitterly. The reporter did not want to ask him about the details of the disaster. The accompanying doctor confirmed that Meregalli had a fracture of the
left elbow. After an initial wound dressing, he was transported by train to the Palermo hospital. Sadly, Giuseppe Giacchino's death was confirmed.
|1.||7||André Boillot||SA des Automobiles et Cycles Peugeot||Peugeot||174 S||3.8||S-4||4||7h09m07.4s|
|2.||5||Henry Segrave||Sunbeam Motor Car Co Ltd||Sunbeam||DA 6732||4.9||S-6||4||8h15m07.0s||+ 1h05m59.6s|
|3.||3||Maurice Béquet||SA des Automobiles et Cycles Peugeot||Peugeot||174 S||3.8||S-4||4||8h17m02.0s||+ 1h07m54.6s|
|DNC||1||Jean Chassagne||Sunbeam Motor Car Co Ltd||Sunbeam||DA 6732||4.9||S-6||4||exceeded max. time|
|DNF||8||Alfieri Maserati||Società Anonima Autocostruzioni Diatto||Diatto||20S||3.0||S-4||3||oil tank|
|DNF||2||Ferdinando Minoia||Officine Meccaniche SA||OM||469 ||1.5||S-4||2||gearbox|
|DNF||6||Luigi Lopez||Officine Meccaniche SA||OM||469||1.5||S-4||1||connecting rod|
|DNF||9||Paolo Arnone||Società Anonima Autocostruzioni Diatto||Diatto||20S||2.0||S-4||1||gave up|
|DNF||4||Guido Meregalli||Società Anonima Autocostruzioni Diatto||Diatto||20S||2.0||S-4||0||crash|
Fastest lap: André Boillot (Peugeot) on lap 1 in 1h43m07.4s = 62.8 km/h (39.0 mph).|
Winner's average speed: at 60.4 km/h (37.5 mph).
Weather: dry, but rain on the last lap.
The final results times and intermediate times differed between the sources and we believe to have selected the correct times for this report.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
La Stampa Sportiva, Torino
Special thanks to: