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Ascari (Alfa Romeo)Campari (Alfa Romeo)

GRAND PRIX D'EUROPE

Spa-Francorchamps (B), 28 June 1925.
54 laps x 14.914 km (9.268 mi) = 805.356 km (500.4 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

1Albert DivoAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 19252.0V-12
2Antonio AscariSA Ital. Ing. Nicola RomeoAlfa RomeoP2 - 19252.0S-8
3Albert GuyotEts Albert Guyot et CieGuyot Special2.0S-6DNA - did not appear
4Henry SegraveSunbeam Motor Car Co LtdSunbeam19242.0S-6DNA - did not appear
5Robert BenoistAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 19242.0V-12
6Giuseppe CampariSA Ital. Ing. Nicola RomeoAlfa RomeoP2 - 19252.0S-8
7Maurice RouvierEts Albert Guyot et CieGuyotSpecial2.0S-6DNA - did not appear
8Giulio MasettiSunbeam Motor Car Co LtdSunbeam19242.0S-6DNA - did not appear
9René ThomasAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 19242.0V-12
10Gastone Brilli PeriSA Ital. Ing. Nicola RomeoAlfa RomeoP2 - 19242.0S-8
11Caberto ConelliSunbeam Motor Car Co LtdSunbeam19242.0S-6
12Paul TorchyAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 19242.0V-12
XSA Autocostruzioni DiattoDiatto2.0S-6DNA - did not appear
XSA MathisMathis1.5S-4DNA - did not appear


Alfa Romeo the only finisher with Ascari and Campari at Spa

by Hans Etzrodt
The third Grand Prix d'Europe at Spa Francorchamps was a disappointing event in the history of great races. Only four teams with 12 cars had placed entries but at the start only seven cars appeared, three straight-eight Alfa Romeos and four Delage V-12s. The race very quickly developed into a monotonous affair because several of the cars dropped out very early and Alfa Romeo proved superior to Delage. After half distance, only three cars were left and at the end only two finished. The fact that the Alfa Romeos of Ascari and Campari were the sole finishers was not merely regrettable; it was unparalleled in grand prix racing.
The European Grand Prix was held for the first time in 1923 when Fiat won at Monza with Salamano and Bordino first and second. The American champion Jimmy Murphy drove his Miller into third place, and two German Benz cars followed in the next places. This was a truly international race. The following year, the European Grand Prix was held at Lyon and developed into a battle between Alfa Romeo, Delage and Sunbeam. Alfa Romeo won; Delage came second but a Sunbeam made the fastest lap.
      The 1925 European Grand Prix was the first event to be staged at Spa- Francorchamps for grand prix racecars. The circuit had been in use since 1921, initially for motorcycles and then in 1924 a 24-hour touring car race was held. The Royal Automobile Club de Belgique (R.A.C.B.) had been busy preparing for such an important event. The start was near Francorchamps, about 10 km south of Spa. In front of the new grandstand, which had 2500 numbered seats, the road was changed into a 300 meter long straight, to improve visibility of the start and finish section. Three new large parking areas were added near the circuit, designed specifically to avoid traffic jams. The 14.914 km triangular circuit had received a macadam layer in 1921 so that dust on the surface was not a hazard. But it was still dusty. With 54 laps the distance of the race was 805.356 km. The circuit contained three hairpin bends, Frontier, the right uphill hairpin just past the left-hand Eau Rouge bend, Stavelot and La Source. With inclines and descents it was similar to the Lyon circuit, however none of the gradients were more than 4% and there were no really difficult corners. One bend was situated near Malmedy on what was formerly German territory.
      The Grand Prix was held for the first time to the new regulations without a riding mechanic. However the second seat had to remain in place but a rear view mirror had to be added. The 2-Liter formula remained in effect.
Entries:
At the end of March, two months before the race, the Alfa Romeo team rented a villa next to the Spa circuit, while Delage settled in a Francorchamps hotel. Early in April the Alfa team arrived at Spa to survey the circuit. Ascari, Campari, Presenti, Brilli-Peri and Minozzi, the reserve driver, were present, as was the team's engineer, Jano.
      Officially there had been 14 entries for the European Grand Prix. The Italian firm Diatto had been disqualified from racing following a protest after the 1924 Rabassada hill climb. When the AIACR lifted the ban at their 1925 meeting early in May, Diatto entered one car for the European Grand Prix. But in the end this and an entry by Mathis did not materialize, which still left a 12-car entry.
      On June 16, AUTOMOBIL-REVUE reported the withdrawal of the Sunbeam and Guyot teams, which amounted to a further loss of five cars. The six-cylinder, supercharged Sunbeams were entered for Major Henry Segrave, Count Caberto Conelli, Count Giulio Masetti with George Duller in reserve. The cars, which were largely unaltered from 1924 were apparently not ready in time for the race and instead were sent from the Wolverhampton factory in England directly to Montlhéry for the French GP. The true reason for their absence may have simply been a shortage of cars. Since the European and French Grands Prix were only one month apart, Sunbeam claimed, it did not allow them sufficient time to rebuild the cars after the European Grand Prix for the more important French Grand Prix.
      The French Guyot-Specials were to be driven by Albert Guyot and Maurice Rouvier (often mixed up with Henry Rougier) and with the Belgian Henri Matthys (not Jean Matthys) as the reserve driver. The cars were based on a modified Rolland-Pillain chassis, fitted with a six-cylinder Burt McCollum sleeve valve engine, very similar to the one used in the Schmidt of 1924. Regarding their non-attendance it appeared that Guyot had not achieved the results he had hoped for. This was probably also the reason why he had withdrawn his three Indianapolis entries. The battle with adversaries like Alfa Romeo and Delage would have been hopeless for Guyot since his cars were too slow. Consequently, he cancelled.
      That left only a seven-car field, consisting of four 12-cylinder Delages for René Thomas, who was the team manager plus Albert Divo and Robert Benoist, two proven drivers and Paul Torchy, who was rather unknown. The 1925 Delage had received a 5-speed gearbox, and was lower and better streamlined than the previous year's model. The hood and cowl were now heavily louvered to dissipate the enormous heat generated by the V-12 engine, which was now equipped with a Roots blower on each bank of cylinders. This boosted the power output to 190 hp, delivering a previously unheard of 95 hp per liter. The installation of a supercharger had gained the French company 87 hp compared with last year's model and enabled a top speed of around 215 km/h. Only one of the 1925 Delage models was ready in time, so the other three entries were 1924 models which had been fitted with superchargers. There was no time to test the cars and although the 1925 model was ready, it was not fully tested. It carried race #1 and was assigned to René Thomas. As the team manager, shortly before the start he lent his new car to Divo who had complained about his 1924 car which had encountered engine and gearbox problems. Thomas then drove the #9, Divo's 1924 car and Divo took the seat in the #1 new Delage which he had never driven before.
      Alfa Romeo arrived with three P2 models, all of them with a slab tank, surmounted by a spare wheel in place of a streamlined tail. Over the winter last year's cars had been improved with larger drum brakes and the installation of an additional fuel tank in front. The latter was needed because of higher fuel consumption, resulting from the use of a special more potent fuel for 1925. Together with detail engine improvements this helped to raise the engine output from 145 hp to 155 at the same top 5500 rpm. Two of these new models were available for Antonio Ascari and Giuseppe Campari. The third car, one of last year's unmodified models, was given to their new driver, Gastone Brilli-Peri, who replaced Louis Wagner after his move to Delage. Giovanni Minozzi and Sozzi came along as nominated reserve drivers.
      The Grand Prix d'Europe was held to the new regulations without the riding mechanic on board, however, the cars still had to have two seats. This was the first time that the new rule was applied. The event counted as the second round of the newly introduced World Championship, which required a minimum distance of 800 km.
Practice:
was set from June 14 to 27, between four and seven in the morning. The Sporting Commission of the R.A.C.B., led by President Baron Nothomb, decided the starting positions by drawing lots, which AUTOMOBIL-REVUE published on May 26: 1. Delage I; 2. Alfa Romeo I; 3. Guyot I; 4. Sunbeam I; 5. Delage II; 6. Alfa Romeo II; 7. Guyot II; 8. Sunbeam II; 9. Delage III; 10. Alfa Romeo III; 11. Sunbeam III; 12. Delage IV.
      During Wednesday practice the Alfa Romeo reserve drivers Minozzi, Sozzi and Bruno drove the early laps. While the reserve drivers were practicing, Thomas was turning quick laps behind the wheel of the new 1925 Delage. His car was noticeably different in the bodywork, which was more profiled but with more tail than before. The general shape was elegant and resembled a single-seater. All engines were equipped with a supercharger. The best lap of the Delage was made by Thomas in 7m45s at an average of 115 km/h. In comparison the Alfa Romeos managed 7m20s and 7m10s, at an average of 120 km/h.
      On Thursday morning Ascari and Campari both completed three laps. Brilli Peri was to drive on Friday. For his part, Divo made six laps at high speed, registering the best time of the day with 7m22s. Benoist, Torchy and Wagner each completed three laps. Torchy's time was 7m49s. After official practice ended, Engineer Pozzi arrived with Mr. Francialli from the Pirelli factory.
      The best times during Friday's practice were made by the three Alfa Romeo drivers. Ascari and Brilli Peri got down to 7 minutes, equal to 128 km/h average while Campari drove at slightly slower speeds. Divo the fastest of the Delage team made one lap in 7m20s. If the weather would be dry, the Alfa Romeo drivers were confident they could make laps in the 6m50s, something really amazing on a circuit like this.
      The weight of the cars was as follows:
Alfa Romeo, Ascari822 kg
Alfa Romeo, Campari870 kg
Alfa Romeo, Brilli Peri840 kg
Delage, Divo800 kg
Delage, Benoist800 kg
Delage, Thomas860 kg
Delage, Torchy840 kg
Race:
Sunday was an overcast day and a rather small crowd, of estimated 80-100,000 spectators, assembled around the course. As mentioned above, the starting positions were decided by drawing lots:
Pole Position
2
Ascari

Alfa Romeo

9
Thomas

Delage

6
Campari

Alfa Romeo

5
Benoist

Delage

10
Brilli-Peri

Alfa Romeo

1
Divo

Delage

12
Torchy

Delage

At ten o'clock the starting signal was given. Both Alfa Romeos went immediately into the lead, followed by the Delages which made a bad start with backfiring engines. Ascari finished the first lap in 7m19s and was seven seconds clear of Campari and 38 seconds ahead of Benoist in third place.
      At the end of lap two, Ascari had a 14 second advantage on his teammate and Divo had now moved into third place, but was already 1m41s behind the leader. Benoist had lost a lot of time and finally appeared slowly, pulling into his pits where he retired his Delage with a broken fuel tank. According to a later statement made by Ascari, the frame had twisted and strained the tank beyond any hope of repair.
      By lap three Alfa Romeo's superiority was beyond any doubt. The Italian cars had better road holding, superior acceleration and more effective brakes. On lap four, Torchy's car received new sparkplugs in over six minutes. He rejoined the race, only to retire his backfiring car at the end of the same lap, supposedly with carburation problems. Ascari led Campari with a large gap to third placed Divo and Brilli-Peri in last year's Alfa Romeo. After five laps, 74.570 km, the seven car field was down to five cars in the following order:
1.Ascari (Alfa Romeo)35m50s
2.Campari (Alfa Romeo)36m33s
3.Divo (Delage)39m04s
4.Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo)39m43s
5.Thomas (Delage)40m12s

Delage disappointed during the race because none of their cars reached the times they had shown in practice. The only one was Benoist on the second lap who had put up a comparable speed to Ascari's in the corners after the grandstand. On lap eight Thomas retired his Delage when his engine caught fire and burned his left hand. Ascari stated later that the Delage overturned and was burning as he drove by, past Francorchamps. Within the first seven laps, three Delages had retired due to a split fuel tank, ignition trouble, (either carburation or a broken valve, depending on whom one believed) and an engine fire. However, according to Griffith Borgeson, the engines had in reality expired when the connecting rods had come through the crankcase. Team chief René Thomas was accused of having the rods machined excessively in order to save weight, but it seemed that the blame was with his designer Albert Lory, for miscalculating the increased piston pressures that supercharging would produce. Prior to that explanation, Laurence Pomeroy had stated that the inherent problem of these new supercharged engines was that normal blow-off valves on the pressure side of the manifold were not fitted. Consequently the built up pressure in the inlet system relieved itself by blowing open the inlet valves. These then hit the exhaust valves with resulting damage.
      It was now left to Divo in the 1925 Delage to defend the French colors and he just did not have sufficient speed to keep up with the Alfas. While Ascari and Campari drove laps at around 7m12s, Divo's laps were about 7m22s. After ten laps, 149.14 km, Ascari led with a time of 1h11m59s, followed by Campari, Divo and Brilli-Peri. After ten laps the field was down to four cars in the following order:
1.Ascari (Alfa Romeo)1h11m59s
2.Campari (Alfa Romeo)1h12m50s
3.Divo (Delage)1h16m15s
4.Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo)1h17m55s

On lap 14, Ascari lapped his teammate Brilli-Peri, in the less powerful model, which had served as the practice car but had not received the improvements that were made to the other two Alfas. Ascari and Campari drove lap after lap at a steady pace. Gradually Divo picked up speed with his Delage and produced a lap in 7m4s, which prompted Ascari to drive the next lap in 6m54s. Campari stopped after lap 19 to take on water, oil and fuel and change both rear wheels in 2m06s. On the next lap Ascari stopped at the pits after his new lap record in 6m52s at 130.18 km/h average speed. After 20 laps, 298.28 km, the order was:
1.Ascari (Alfa Romeo)2h23m01s
2.Campari (Alfa Romeo)2h25m15s
3.Divo (Delage)2h28m10s
4.Brilli Peri (Alfa Romeo)2h34m50s1 lap behind

Divo, who had not yet stopped at the pits almost caught up with Campari, the two cars being separated by only about 300 meters. But Divo was three minutes behind, when he arrived at his pits with a flat tire. Since Divo carried no spare, he had to limp back to the pits on his rim. He changed tires, and took on fuel, oil and water. While he was in the pits, Ascari and Campari both passed him. The race had become monotonous except for Brilli-Peri's attempt to catch Divo. However Brilli-Peri's race ended on lap 27 when a bolt of the Alfa's rear spring broke. After 30 laps 447.42 km, the field was down to three cars in the following order:
1.Ascari (Alfa Romeo)3h36m16s
2.Campari (Alfa Romeo)3h44m04s1 lap behind
3.Divo (Delage)3h48m01s1 lap behind

On lap 31, Divo stopped to replace the sparkplugs of the right side block. All four tires were changed, and water and fuel were added. On lap 32 Divo headed for his pits again, this time to change a broken spark plug. His struggle came to an end when he retired on lap 33. Ascari established a new lap record on lap 34 in 6m49s at 131.49 km/h average speed. Both Alfas, the only cars now running, were called into the pits for their regular stops after 40 laps, 596.56 km at an average speed of 123.875 km/h with the times as follows:
1.Ascari (Alfa Romeo)4h55m18s
2.Campari (Alfa Romeo)5h12m54s2 laps behind

The Italian journalist, Giovanni Canestrini, who was present in Spa wrote in La Gazzatta dello Sport on Monday after the race, by now the Italian couple of Ascari and Campari was alone, absolute masters of the field. Once all traces of resistance had disappeared from their unfortunate adversaries, after the 40th lap, our drivers were standing in the pits, took refreshment, do a bit clean-up time for the cars. Ascari also changed all four tires. Five minutes passed like this. The disappointment of the spectators was now complete. The disappearance of the courageous Divo, in which the French above all had placed their unyielding, desperate hopes to the last, spread a bitter sadness among the spectators.
      This particular pit stop has often been described and over the years became a popular anecdote, based on unreliable secondary source information. 27 years later in Canestrini's 1957 memoirs, "Uomini e Motori", there appears the complete story with a picnic table and carwash. Peter Hull also spread this yarn in his 1967 book. Thereafter this nonsense appeared in many books and articles where this 1925 race was described.
      Ascari and Campari completed the last third of the 54-lap race at a steady speed and only near the end did Campari slow down, giving Ascari a three-lap advantage. After 50 laps, 740.7 km, the times were:
1.Ascari (Alfa Romeo)6h11m49s
2.Campari (Alfa Romeo)5h32m48s3 laps behind

Ascari drove towards victory with wonderful regularity, followed by Campari. It did not appear that their engines had sustained such a prolonged effort. Now Ascari and Campari were running laps in 7m35s and 8m respectively. It was remarkable that during the race the hood of the leading Alfa Romeo did not have to be opened a single time. On the penultimate lap, the Italians who were scattered amongst the spectators regrouped, as if a password had spread around. Some small tricolor flags were seen being waved. Finally the roar of the engine announced the arrival of the winner. At the Alfa Romeo pits executives and mechanics were on their feet, cheering and were joined by a few Italians present as Ascari crossed the finish line three laps ahead of Campari. A group of Italian spectators carried Ascari on their shoulders to the grandstand. The Tones of the Marcia Reale was heard. Ascari was embraced by engineer Romeo and his arm reached to the stand where he was congratulated by the members of the Sporting Commission, though the absence of members of the Belgian Government was noted.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.2Antonio AscariSA Ital. Ing. Nicola RomeoAlfa RomeoP2 - 19252.0S-8546h42m57s
2.6Giuseppe CampariSA Ital. Ing. Nicola RomeoAlfa RomeoP2 - 19252.0S-8547h04m55s+ 21m58s
DNF1Albert DivoAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 19252.0V-1233engine
DNF10Gastone Brilli PeriSA Ital. Ing. Nicola RomeoAlfa RomeoP2 - 19242.0S-827broken spring
DNF9René ThomasAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 19242.0V-126engine
DNF12Paul TorchyAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 19242.0V-12 4carburation
DNF5Robert BenoistAutomobiles DelageDelage2LCV 1924  2.0V-122fuel tank split
Fastest lap: Antonio Ascari (Alfa Romeo) in 6m49s = 131.3 km/h (81.6 mph).
Winner's average speed: 119.9 km/h (74.5 mph). (Note 1)
Weather: warm, dry.
In retrospect:
The World Championship standings had been described in AUTOMOBILE-REVUE as follows: Alfa Romeo had 6+1=7 points; Duesenberg had 1+6=7 points; Junior Eight 2+6=8 points; Miller 4+6=10 points; Delage had 11 points, receiving five points for not finishing this race plus six for the first missed event. All others had 6+6=12 points. With two races still to go, anything was possible.

The Delage engine problems were described by Griffith Borgeson who stated "The blame would seem to have been Lory's for miscalculating the piston pressures that supercharging would give him." This serious problem had to be resolved immediately between Delage team chief René Thomas and designer Albert Lory because the next race in France was just four weeks away. They had to work day and night during the following month to iron out their engine problem. During the revolt in the factory, the blame was put on René Thomas, who was accused of stealing all the accessory prize money. Delage studied the accessory firms' contracts and in turn fired Thomas as team manager replacing him with Louis Wagner. Delage then had the contracts changed into his own name and benefit. After René Thomas was dismissed from Delage, it is interesting to learn that Delage gave Thomas a car to drive at the 1925 San Sebastian Grand Prix, however as an ordinary driver, not as the team leader.

Footnote:
1. Official results (incorrectly counted): Fastest lap 131.49 km/h, average speed 119.96 km/h. It would correspond to 14.939 km and 14.919 km circuit lenghts.

Primary sources researched for this article:
A.C.I. Rivista, Torino
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE, Bern
Automobil-Welt, Berlin
ENGLEBERT Magzine, Belgium
La Domenica Sportiva, Milano
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
L'Auto, Paris
L'Echo de Paris, Paris
MOTOR, Berlin
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Omnia, Paris
Special thanks to:
Giuseppe Prisco
Marc Ceulemans



Balestrero (OM)Casano (Alfa Romeo)Trombetta (Fiat)

COPPA VINCI

Circuito dei Monti Peloritani - Messina (I), 5 July 1925.
5 laps x 52 km (32.3 mi) = 260 km (161.6 mi)


No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

Category up to 1500 cc
1Giuseppe ClavesG. ClavesFiat501 S1.5S-4
2Renato IrreraR. IrreraBugattiT13 "Brescia"1.5S-4
3Lorenzo MesseriL. MesseriFiat501 S1.5S-4
4Antonino TricomiA. TricomiFiat501 S1.5S-4
5Luigi PlatèL. PlatèChiribiriMonza S1.5S-4
6Bartolo FilippiB. FilippiFiat501 S1.5S-4
7Costantino MagistriC. MagistriBugattiT13 "Brescia"1.5S-4
8Luigi CricelliL. CricelliSalmson1.1S-4
9Salvatore NapoliS. NapoliOM469 S1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
10Salvatore EsteriniS. EsteriniCeirano150S1.5S-4
11Armando BavaA. BavaFiat501 S1.5S-4
 
Category up to 2000 cc
12Luigi LopezL. LopezBianchiT182.0S-4
13Giuseppe VittoriaG. VittoriaDiatto20S2.0S-4
14Giulio PucciBaron G. PucciBugattiT352.0S-8
15Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroOM665 S2.0S-6
16Salvatore MusmeciCavaliere S. MusmeciBugattiT35A2.0S-8DNS - did not start
18Mario VigoM. VigoBianchiT182.0S-4
 
Category over 2000 cc
19Biagio GiannettoB. GiannettoAlfa RomeoRL3.0S-6
20Angelo GiustiA. GiustiSPA24 S3.0S-6
21Federico FisauliF. FisauliCeiranoCS2H3.0S-4
22Costantino TrombettaC. TrombettaFiat14 B - S.574.5S-4
23Salvatore CasanoS. CasanoAlfa RomeoRLS3.0S-6
24Gioacchino VigoG. VigoCeiranoCS2H3.0S-4
25Cesare SpecialeC. SpecialeZambonZ5
26Giuseppe PiroG. PiroClevelandDNS - did not start
27Amedeo SillittiBaron A. SillittiAlfa RomeoRL TF 243.6S-6
28Giuseppe PuglisiG. PuglisiAlfa RomeoRL3.0S-6
Note: the number 17 was not used due to the common belief by Italian drivers that it was an unlucky number.


Balestrero wins the first Coppa Vinci at Messina

by Hans Etzrodt
From 24 cars at the start, only 9 finished the Coppa Vinci, driving 5 laps on the 52 km circuit. Irrera's 1500 Bugatti was leading after the first lap. When his car broke down on lap two, Balestrero (2000 OM) took the lead ahead of Trombetta (4500 Fiat), Magistri (1500 Bugatti) and Casano (3000 Alfa Romeo). Balestrero kept the lead on the third lap ahead of Trombetta and Casano as Magistri retired. On lap four the order Balestrero, Trombetta, Casano remained. When Trombetta changed tires on the last lap, Casano took second place behind the victorious Balestreo, with Trombetta third. Only nine cars were able to finish while there were 15 retirements, including three crashes without serious injuries.
The first Coppa Vinci was organized by the Automobile Club di Messina under its president Vincenzo Vinci and the RACI Messina Office. The cars were divided into three categories, up to 1500 cc, up to 2000 cc and over 2000 cc. The race was held on the 52 km Circuito dei Monti Peloritani, northwest of Messina. From the start at San Francesco, just to the north of Messina, the circuit led uphill crossing the Peloritani Mountains to Colle S. Rizzo at 456 meters altitude. This consisted of rough mountain roads with long gradients and was the most difficult section of the circuit. From the picturesque "Stairs S. Rizzo" it was downhill to Ponte Gallo at the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The remaining two thirds led along the seashore to Spartà, with another coastal stretch to Granatari and from there along the coast of the Strait of Messina back to the start. The drivers had to complete five laps, a total of 260 km.
      The winner would receive the Coppa Vinci (challenge three years) with temporary ownership for one year, also an exact bronze reproduction of the trophy to be held in perpetuity. In addition, the winner collected a cash prize of 30,000 Lire and a gold medal.
Entries:
The promotor received supposedly 28 entries but actually only 27 were made after deducting the #17 race number, which was never issued. After one driver did not appear and two did not start, the field was reduced to 24 cars. Trombetta, a driver of the era before 1908, showed that he still possessed good driving skills in an updated version of a 1914 Grand Prix Fiat 14 B - S.57, the same car Giulio Masetti had raced to victory at the 1921 Targa Florio. The car was now equipped with front brakes. The two 3-Liter Ceiranos were driven by Fisauli and Gioacchino Vigo. Amongst those large cars were also four 6-cylinder Alfa Romeos driven by Giannetto with a RL, Casano with a RLS, Sillitti with a RL TF 24 and Puglisi with a RL. Angelo Giusti drove a 3-Liter Spa and used sometimes the pseudonym "Evangelicus Sayris" which is a Greek translation of his name. This name appeared in many sources and caused much confusion.
      Balestrero's OM was probably works-assisted as he was the OM agent in Lucca, so racing cars were loaned to him under this arrangement. Michael Müller informed us that Pucci's T35 was the Targa Florio works car of Ferdinand de Vizcaya (chassis 4517), which had been sold after the race through the Palermo Bugatti agency Albanese & Carello to Baron Giulio Pucci di Benischi. The 1500 category was dominated by five 1500S Fiats which were not supercharged. The Chiribiri of Luigi Platè was a type Monza S. The type of Cricelli's Salmson was not known. A Ceirano 150S was driven by Salvatore Esterini, but Salvatore Ignoto was reported in all our sources. Alessandro Silva informed us that "Ignoto" was a pseudonym. His full name was Salvatore Esterini, born August 14, 1883 in Acireale (Catania) and died March 3, 1980. A complete list of entries is shown at the beginning of this report.
Race:
Spectators came from all provinces of Sicily and Calabria to attend this racing event. From 27 entries only 24 drivers lined up for the start since Napoli did not appear, Musmeci who came from nearby Catania, crashed his 2000 Bugatti during Saturday practice and Piro encountered a sudden engine failure. The cars started individually in order of their race numbers at intervals of one minute because of the dust on the dirt roads. However, the cars were not necessarily released at one-minute intervals, since starting times had been determined beforehand according to the race numbers. If cars did not appear at the start, (e.g. #9) then car #10 was held to its predetermined time of departure. The 1500 cc category started first, followed by the 2000 cc cars and finally the over 2000 cc category. Between each category was an interval of five minutes. At 8:00 AM the President of the Messina AC, Vincenzo Vinci lowered the Italian flag to start the Fiat of Claves, followed a minute later by the blue Bugatti "Brescia" of Irrera. At 8:34 Puglisi in the red Alfa Romeo was the last car to be started.
8:001ClavesFiat1500 cc
8:012IrreraBugatti--"--
8:023MesseriFiat--"--
8:034TricomiFiat--"--
8:045PlatèChiribiri--"--
8:056FilippiFiat--"--
8:067MagistriBugatti--"--
8:078CricelliSalmson1100
8:089NapoliOM1500 ccDNA - did not appear
8:0910EsteriniCeirano--"--
8:1011BavaFiat--"--
8:1512LopezBianchi2000 cc
8:1613VittoriaDiatto--"--
8:1714PucciBugatti--"--
8:1815BalestreroOM--"--
8:1916MusmeciBugatti--"--DNS - did not start
8:2018Vigo M.Bianchi--"--
8:2519GiannettoAlfa Romeoover 2000 cc
8:2620GiustiSPA--"--
8:2721FisauliCeirano--"--
8:2822TrombettaFiat--"--
8:2923CasanoAlfa Romeo--"--
8:3024Vigo G.Ceirano--"--
8:3125SpecialeZambon--"--
8:3226PiroCleveland--"--DNS - did not start
8:3327SilittiAlfa Romeo--"--
8:3428PuglisiAlfa Romeo--"--
At the end of the 1st lap the popular Irrera from Messina was in the lead with his 1500 "Brescia" Bugatti, almost one minute ahead of Balestrero's 2-Liter OM with the Bugattis of Pucci and Magistri another minute further behind. Tricomi (1500 Fiat) and Lopez (2000 Bianchi) were forced to retire with gearbox failure. Fisauli had stopped on the starting line, forcing the mechanic to get off the car to restart the engine. Since Fisauli was no longer mentioned, he possibly did not even start in the race but was listed to have retired on the first lap, the reasons unknown. Claves retired his 1500 Fiat at Ganzirri with a broken gearbox, while the race of the Puglisi brothers ended in Granatari when the Alfa Romeo engine broke down. Cricelli's 1100 Salmson overturned in the Grotte turn. He suffered only minor bruises while his mechanic sustained a head injury, treated by a doctor who was rushed to the accident site. Six drivers had retired with the field down to 18 cars in the following order after the first lap:
1.Irrera (Bugatti)43m58s1500 cc
2.Balestrero (OM)44m55s2000 cc
3.Pucci (Bugatti)45m52s2000 cc
4.Magistri (Bugatti)45m55s1500 cc
5.Trombetta (FIAT)46m57sover 2000 cc
6.Vittoria (Diatto)47m33s2000 cc
7.Giannetto (Alfa Romeo)47m33sover 2000 cc
8.Casano (Alfa Romeo)47m53sover 2000 cc
9.Giusti (SPA)48m52sover 2000 cc
10.Filippi (Fiat)49m11s1500 cc
11.Silitti (Alfa Romeo)49m12sover 2000 cc
12.Platè (Chiribiri)50m22s1500 cc
13.Speciale (Zambon)51m15sover 2000 cc
14.Messeri (Fiat)51m39s1500 cc
15.Esterini (Ceirano)53m38s1500 cc
16.Vigo G. (Ceirano)53m53sover 2000 cc
17.Vigo M. (Bianchi)53m55s2000 cc
18.Bava (Fiat)54m54s1500cc

On the second lap, the leading Irrera retired his Bugatti at San Rizzo with a broken differential. The popular Messina driver had impressed with his frantic pace on the first lap and disappointed the hopes of his fellow Messinans who wanted him to win or at least finish amongst the leaders. Balestrero then took the lead, 4m52s ahead of Trombetta while Magistri had slowed down with clutch failure. Casano followed 7m21s behind the leader, Giusti after 8m50s and Filippi after 9m12s, who was now leading the 1500 class after Irrera's retirement. Filippi lost control of the Fiat a few meters after passing the finish and ended up against a wall bursting a tire, losing time with the repair. In sixth place, 10m54s behind, passed Platè followed by Vittoria who slowed down and stopped at Ponte Gallo to replace spark plugs. Messeri was in eighth place, followed by Sillitti, Esterini, M. Vigo and G. Vigo. Speciale, a driver from Messina, was victim of an accident at the Giostra bridge, breaking a side member of the Zambon chassis and was forced to retire. At the climb to San Rizzo, Giannetto's race with his Alfa Romeo ended with a broken piston. Baron Pucci in last place crashed due to a brake problem. Bava was forced to retire at Ganzirri due to a broken gearbox. After these latest retirements, the field was down to 13 cars.
      At the end of the third lap Balestrero remained in the lead with a lap in 44m21s ahead of Trombetta, Casano and Giusti. When Messeri retired with engine failure at San Rizzo, Vittoria climbed to fifth place. Magistri, who had slowed with a clutch problem on lap two, had fallen far behind and slowly reached the finish line, to retire after his second lap. He had Cricelli and his mechanic on board his Bugatti T13, "Brescia", after their crash on the first lap. But how four men could fit in a "Brescia" is dubious unless he had a 4-seat Bugatti T22. Baron Pucci, who had crashed earlier, arrived also slowly to complete his second lap at the finish with a broken brake pedal. The 11-car field was in the following order after three laps:
1.Balestrero (OM)2h13m27s2000 cc
2.Trombetta (FIAT)2h22m15sover 2000 cc
3.Casano (Alfa Romeo)2h24m47sover 2000 cc
4.Giusti (SPA)2h25m51sover 2000 cc
5.Vittoria (Diatto)2h31m10s2000 cc
6.Silitti (Alfa Romeo)3h33m31sover 2000 cc
7.Platè (Chiribiri)2h34m02s1500 cc
8.Filippi (Fiat)2h35m52s1500 cc
9.Esterini (Ceirano)2h40m50s1500 cc
10.Vigo G. (Ceirano)3h01m11sover 2000 cc
11.Vigo M. (Bianchi)3h07m19s2000 cc

On the fourth lap Balestrero did not have to refuel due to the OM's large tank and remained in the lead. He was followed after 12m45s by Trombetta, 15m43s by Casano, after 16 minutes by Giusti and after 23m20s by Vittoria. Further behind trailed Esterini and Gioacchino Vigo. The elderly Platè and his opponent Filippi had a close battle. When passing the finish line, Platè had slowed his pace due to overheating brakes and was passed by Filippi who climbed to sixth position, regaining the lead of the minor category. Mario Vigo retired his Bianchi due to engine failure.
      On the 5th lap as Balestrero passed along the circuit he was happily applauded by the crowd on his way to victory. Gioacchino Vigo was forced to retire his Ceirano. After 260 km, Balestrero crossed the finish line in 4h42m39s at 70.370 km/h average speed. Trombetta lost second position when he changed a tire and was passed by Casano who finished just over 19 minutes behind in second place. Trombetta was third followed by Giusti, Vittoria, Platè, Sillitti, Filippi and Esterini.
      Balestrero as winner received 30,000 Lire and a bronze copy of the "Vinci Cup", complete with Pirelli tires and a gold medal from the same company; Platè, winner of the1500 category L. 8,000; Filippi, second, L. 5,000; Ignoto, third. L. 2,000; Vittoria, second of the 2,000 category received L. 5,000; Casano, first in the category over 2000, received L. 8,000; Trombetta, second, L. 5,000; Giusti, third, L. 2,000.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.15Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroOM665 S2.0S-653h42m49.0s 
2.23Salvatore CasanoS. CasanoAlfa RomeoRLS3.0S-654h01m59.2s+ 19m10.2s
3.22Costantino TrombettaC. TrombettaFiat14 B - S.574.5S-454h03m14.8s+ 20m25.8s
4.20Angelo GiustiA. GiustiSPA24 S3.0S-654h09m51.0s+ 27m02.0s
5.13Giuseppe VittoriaG. VittoriaDiatto20S2.0S-454h11m40.0s+ 28m51.0s
6.5Luigi PlatèL. PlatèChiribiriMonza1.5S-454h20m40.2s+ 37m51.2s
7.27Amedeo SillittiBaron A. SillittiAlfa RomeoRL TF 243.6S-654h21m01.0s+ 38m12.0s
8.6Bartolo FilippiB. FilippiFiat501 S1.5S-454h23m09.0s+ 40m20.0s
9.10Salvatore EsteriniS. EsteriniCeirano150S1.5S-454h48m09.0s+ 1h05m20.0s
DNF24Gioacchino VigoG. VigoCeiranoCS2H3.0S-44retired on lap 5
DNF18Mario VigoM. VigoBianchiT182.0S-43engine 
DNF7Costantino MagistriC. MagistriBugattiT13 "Brescia"1.5S-42clutch 
DNF3Lorenzo MesseriL. MesseriFiat501 S1.5S-42engine 
DNF11Armando BavaA. BavaFiat501 S1.5S-41gearbox 
DNF14Giulio PucciBaron G. PucciBugattiT352.0S-81crash 
DNF25Cesare SpecialeC. SpecialeZambonZ51crash 
DNF2Renato IrreraR. IrreraBugattiT13 "Brescia"1.5S-41differential 
DNF19Biagio GiannettoB. GiannettoAlfa RomeoRL3.0S-61piston
DNF8Luigi CricelliL. CricelliSalmson1.1S-40crash 
DNF1Giuseppe ClavesG. ClavesFiat501 S1.5S-40gearbox 
DNF12Luigi LopezL. LopezBianchiT182.0S-40gearbox 
DNF4Antonino TricomiA. TricomiFiat501 S1.5S-40gearbox 
DNF28Giuseppe PuglisiG. PuglisiAlfa RomeoRL3.0S-60engine
DNF21Federico FisauliF. FisauliCeiranoCS2H3.0S-40start problem
Fastest lap: Renato Irrera (Bugatti 1500 cc) on lap 1 in 43m58.4s = 71.0 km/h (44.1 mph).
Fastest lap 2000 cc: Renato Balestrero (OM) in 44m20s = 70.4 km/h (43.7 mph).
Fastest lap over 2000 cc: Costantino Trombetta (Fiat) in 46m57s = 66.5 km/h (41.3 mph).
Winner's average speed over 2000 cc, Casano: 64.5 km/h (40.1 mph).
Winner's average speed 2000 cc, Balestrero: 70.0 km/h (43.5 mph).
Winner's average speed 1500 cc, Platè: in 4h20m40.2s at 59.8 km/h (37.2 mph).
Weather: dry and warm.

Primary sources researched for this article:
ACI rivista, Torino
Auto-Moto-Ciclo, Milano
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
L'IMPERO, Roma
Special thanks to:
Alessandro Silva
Giuseppe Prisco
Michael Müller
Nuccio Rubino: La Coppa Vinci book



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© 2021 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 17.07.2021