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Targa Florio - 14-16 Jun 12

Posted: June 17, 2012 11:37 AM - 7651 Hits

Round 5 - 2012 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)

Co-Driver Gareth Roberts Killed on Stage 8 accident

Posted: June 17, 2012 11:37 AM

Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia, round five of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, was stopped after eight stages this morning following the accident that claimed the life of British co-driver Gareth Roberts.

Event organisers Automobile Club Palermo confirmed that the accident occurred approximately eight kilometres from the start of the Cefalu’ stage east of the service park in Termini Imerese.

A rescue crew was located 50 metres from the crash site and attended immediately. Despite their best efforts, Roberts succumbed to his injuries. Driver Craig Breen was unhurt in the accident but was treated at the scene for shock. No spectators were involved and the remainder of the event was cancelled as a mark of respect to Roberts.

Along with Breen, the talented and popular 24-year-old was embarking on his first major campaign in the IRC. Following points-scoring finishes on the Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in April and Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse last month, their programme with Saintéloc Racing would have included the upcoming Geko Ypres Rally and Sibiu Rally Romania.

Their participation in Sicily with HRT Motorsport was added to their schedule to provide an additional opportunity to demonstrate their considerable talents in a Peugeot 207 Super 2000. After seven stages they were in sixth position overall having set a succession of impressive stage times on an event they were competing on for the first time.

IRC Manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas said:
“It’s a very sad accident. The death of a 24-year-old young man at the start of a fantastic career is always a tragedy. From the start of this year, together with Craig Breen, Gareth has put in some excellent performances and the crew really got themselves noticed. There’s no doubt in my mind that these performances would have got even better. At this terrible time, I’m thinking very much of Gareth’s family, to whom all of us at Eurosport Events, the promoter of the IRC, pass on our sincere condolences.”

A short tribute to Gareth will be included in Eurosport 2’s coverage of the event at 09:00hrs CET on Sunday 17 June. The same programme will replace the scheduled Inside IRC show at 23:00hrs on Tuesday 19 June.

Jan Kopecký was declared the winner of the event. He had trailed overnight leader Andreas Mikkelsen, in an identical ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, by 4.5s starting Saturday’s first stage but moved in front by going 5.3s quicker than the Norwegian, who reported being too cautious through the stage, which was won by Giandomencio Basso in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC. Basso was the highest-placed Italian driver in third overall. Massimiliano Rendina and Simone Campedelli won the IRC Production Cup and IRC 2WD Cup respectively.

Mikkelsen, who won the IRC title in 2011 with co-driver Ola Fløene, said: “I didn’t know Gareth very well, but he seemed like a really great guy and he was clearly a very good co-driver. Ola and I send our condolences to Gareth’s family, friends and to Craig.”

Basso said:
“This is one of those terrible, chance things that is very hard to believe. It’s a horrible situation we are all faced with together and I am so sad and sorry.”

Paolo Andreucci, the six-time Targa Florio winner who finished fifth on the event, said:
“I feel very bad…very bad. Unfortunately a very talented young man has gone. In the fullness of time, maybe we need to look more in detail at the causes and what exactly happened to see if we can learn anything. But for now though, I’m just thinking of Gareth, Craig and his family.”

FINAL TOP 10 IRC POSITIONS (RESULTS DECLARED AFTER SS8)
1 Jan Kopecký (CZE)/Pavel Dresler (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 1h04m59.1s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ola Fløene (NOR) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +0.8s
3 Giandomencio Basso (ITA)/Mitia Dotta (ITA) M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC +2.5s
4 Umberto Scandola (ITA)/Guido D’Amore (ITA) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +23.5s
5 Paolo Andreucci (ITA)/Anna Andreussi (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +33.3s
6 Matteo Gamba (ITA)/Emanuele Inglesi (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +54.4s
7 Sepp Wiegand (GER)/Timo Gottschalk (GER) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +1m08.7s
8 Alessandro Perico (ITA)/Fabrizio Carrara (ITA) Peugeot 207 S2000 +1m17.5s
9 Massimiliano Rendina (ITA)/Mario Pizzuti (ITA) Ralliart Lancer Evolution X +4m44.1s
10 Robert Consani (FRA)/Nicolas Klinger (FRA) Renault Mégane RS +4m58.6s

IRC leader Mikkelsen ready for Sicilian revisit with ŠKODA – this time on asphalt

Posted: June 14, 2012 3:54 PM

Intercontinental Rally Challenge leader and defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen will return to Sicily for the next round of the series, the Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia (14-16 June), and face the tough challenge posed by asphalt experts in the Campionato Italiano Rally (Italian Rally Championship) who will also be eligible to score IRC points.

Andreas and co-driver Ola Fløene have competed on the Italian Mediterranean island once before – finishing third on last October’s Rally Conca d’Ora to secure the Trofeo Rally Terra (Italian Gravel Rally Championship) title.

This time the ŠKODA UK Motorsport crew, driving their factory-prepared Fabia S2000, will be aiming to maintain their lead in the IRC. With no experience of the shiny and slippery asphalt, they won’t start as favourites – not with the likes of six-time event winner and reigning Italian champion Paolo Andreucci on the starting list.

The Targa Florio (which replaces the Mecesk Rallye as Round 5 of the IRC) is one of the oldest and most prestigious motorsport events in Italy. Created in 1906, the rally originally consisted of a road race around the whole of Sicily, but by the 1930s it had transformed into an 11 lap race around a 44.7 mile (72km) loop on public roads, called the Circuito delle Madonie. Past winners include Sir Stirling Moss, Vic Elford, Arturo Merzario and Sandro Munari. The Targa Florio was resurrected as a stage rally in 1978, and still uses sections of the Madonie circuit today.

Andreas may not have contested the Targa Florio before, but ŠKODA UK Motorsport brings a lot of experience with it to the event – not least in the form of its team co-ordinator, Dario D’Esposito, who finished 6th as a co-driver on his last competitive outing there in 2004.

Andreas:
“We’ve had some very good runs on asphalt this year in the IRC, so hopefully that will continue in Sicily. I’ve been to the island before, but only for a gravel rally and I know very little about the Targa Florio, expect that it is held on very slippery Tarmac. I expect a lot of tough competition, especially from the Italian drivers who have done the event before, so it won’t be easy – but I will do my best and see where we end up in the results.”

This year’s Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia is located in Campofelice di Roccella with the permanent service park housed in Termini Imersese, both east of the capital, Palermo. Leg 1 starts with a short city stage on the evening of Thursday 14 June, before restarting the following morning. Three loops over two stages follow, totalling 62.9 miles (101.2kms).

Leg 2 contains a loop of two stages, tackled once in the morning and repeated in the afternoon, totalling 42.5 miles (68.4kms). After all 11 special stages and 105.4 miles (169.6kms) have been completed, the rally is scheduled to finish at 17.30 on Saturday 16 June.

Eurosport will broadcast recorded highlights of the event. Check TV listings for times and more details.

ANDREUCCI AND PIRELLI TARGET MORE SUCCESS ON TARGA FLORIO

Posted: June 14, 2012 3:52 PM

Multiple Italian Rally Champion and current series leader Paolo Andreucci is targeting more success with Pirelli on the all-asphalt Targa Florio next weekend: an event that he has won six times already.

This year, however, the Sicilian event takes on a new dimension, as for the first time it will also be a scoring round of the highly competitive Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which is backed by television giant Eurosport.

This means that some of the top international stars will also come to Sicily to take on Andreucci and Pirelli.
“I think it will be some of the strongest competition I have ever faced there,” said Peugeot Italia driver Andreucci. “I have seen the quality of the IRC drivers before, when they came to Sardinia, and I know that we will have a very big fight on our hands. But thanks to the support we have from our engineers and Pirelli, we certainly have the equipment to be challenging for victory: hopefully the driver is also able to challenge for the win again as well!”

The legendary Targa Florio on the Italian island of Sicily is one of the oldest motorsport events in the world, celebrating its 96th running this year from 14-16 June. The world famous rally, which has lent its name to many road cars such as the iconic Porsche 911 Targa, is characterised by its bumpy and mountainous asphalt roads, together with a series of hairpin bends that will challenge the tyres to the very limit. Andreucci, who developed Pirelli’s highly successful tyres for the World Rally Championship from 2008-2010, is confident that the P Zero asphalt rubber will give him both the performance and durability required to challenge for victory once more on the 151-kilometre event.

Pirelli will bring its RX7 tyres to the Targa Florio, while the harder RX5 compound may also be used on some longer stages. The RX family of tyres is among the most versatile in Pirelli’s competition range thanks to a lightly grooved tread pattern, a square profile and a particularly rigid structure. These characteristics help steering precision and provide a rapid response, while maintaining the strength and durability to cope with prolonged high speeds and longer stages. Conditions in Sicily are expected to be warm and dry, but the RX tyre can also cope well with damp conditions – underlining the adaptability of Pirelli’s competition products.

Other drivers who will be using Pirelli tyres on the Targa Florio include Giandomenico Basso, another former Italian champion who will be driving the Ford Fiesta Regional Rally Car that he took to victory on the Mille Miglia at the beginning of the year. Local driver Marco Runfola steps up to a Peugeot 207 S2000 for his home event, having finished third overall last year. Matteo Gamba is currently third in the Italian Championship standings with another Pirelli-equipped Peugeot, which he will drive again in Sicily, together with Alessandro Perico in a similar car.

Pirelli driver Simone Campedelli will be defending his lead of the junior and two-wheel drive championships in his Citroen DS3 R3T, while the Pirelli-equipped Renault Twingo Trophy will also be present in Sicily.

Pirelli’s product manager Terenzio Testoni commented:
“The Targa Florio will be one of the biggest tests of the year for our tyres, as the opposition we face from the Intercontinental Rally Challenge regulars will be fierce. Nonetheless, the latest tests we have carried out with the RX tyres have shown very promising results, and their performance is extremely well-suited to the demanding Sicilian roads in all temperatures. These roads tend to be made of old, slippery and bumpy asphalt, but the RX7 manages to generate good grip and makes up for the inconsistency of the surface, making the cars easier to drive. We may use the harder RX5 as well on longer stages”

The Targa Florio rally gets underway in Palermo on the evening of Thursday 14 June, with a superspecial stage around the streets of Sicily’s capital. The rally ends on the evening of Saturday 16 June after 11 special stages.

Craig Breen / Gareth Roberts set for Sicilian Tarmac

Posted: June 13, 2012 11:49 AM

After two outings in this year’s Intercontinental Rally challenge with French Team Sainteloc Racing, Irish rally driver Craig Breen has a bonus event next weekend in the IRC series. IRC Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia, round five of the championship begins next Thursday on the Italian island of Sicily and Breen will take on the event driving a Peugeot 207 S2000 prepared by Italian team, HRT Motorsport. Do his last minute preparations before traveling to the Mediterranean Craig said,
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to take on another IRC event this year. I’ve already competed on the Circuit of Ireland and Tour de Corse as part of my agreement with Sainteloc Racing and we still have the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium and Sibiu Rally Romania to come with them but this is a nice bonus.”

The Targa Florio (which replaces the Mecesk Rallye) is one of the oldest and most prestigious motorsport events in Italy. Created in 1906, the rally originally consisted of a road race around the whole of Sicily, but by the 1930s it had transformed into an 11 lap race around a 44.7 mile (72km) loop on public roads, called the Circuito delle Madonie. The Targa Florio was resurrected as a stage rally in 1978, and still uses sections of the Madonie circuit.

Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia, to give the event its full title, will present a tough test for the IRC regulars as they go up against the cream of the Italian championship on high-speed, undulating Tarmac stages east of Palermo, Sicily’s capital city.

Because of the Mediterranean island’s intense heat, the road surface is prone to softening, which makes the asphalt slippery and bumpy in nature as a result. Grip levels also change frequently, which increases the challenge facing the crews.

In keeping with the event’s origins, the stages are effectively extended versions of race circuits with wide open corners so a precise driving style and car set-up is vital in order to achieve optimal cornering and exit speeds. And because of the high speeds achieved, engines are subjected to significant stress levels.

The format of the modern-day Targa differs to other IRC rounds with the action contained within five different stage layouts: a single run over the Citta’ Di Palmero stage on Thursday night, three passes over the Targa and Collesano stages on Friday and two runs over the Cefalu and Castelbuono stages on Saturday. The Collesano and Castelbuono stages haven’t been used since the 1980s and are therefore unchartered territory for the leading contenders.

“Having started our odyssey with Sainteloc on home ground at the ‘Circuit’ (Circuit of Ireland) and then took on the iconic Tour de Corse. The Circuit was really used to acclimatise to the Peugeot but on the Tour de Corse I truly got to get to grips with the French machine and now I have next weekend’s event further improve my abilities with the car. We will try very hard to put in a good result for the team and aim for a good points haul for our IRC campaign.”

TARGA FLORIO-RALLY INTERNAZIONALE DI SICILIA PREVIEW

Posted: June 8, 2012 10:27 AM

OVERVIEW
New meets old when the legendary Targa Florio hosts the all-action Intercontinental Rally Challenge for the first time next week (14-16 June).

Created in 1906 by amateur racer Vincenzo Florio, the event originally consisted of a road race around the whole of Sicily, but by the 1930s it was down to a 72-kilometre lap on public roads, called the Circuito delle Madonie – which was repeated 11 times. Covering nearly 1000 kilometres, drivers were usually split into teams of two.

The route was fearsome, consisting of several hairpin bends and narrow mountain roads with changeable grip, which the spectators adored. Many of the biggest heroes of the sport competed on the roads of the ‘Targa’: winners include Sir Stirling Moss, Vic Elford, Arturo Merzario and Sandro Munari.

Although the roads were twisty and average speeds low, a number of accidents meant that the road race was discontinued after 1977. Instead, the Targa Florio was resurrected as a stage rally in 1978, joining the Campionato Italiano Rally (the Italian Rally Championship) and using sections of the original Madonie circuit. It remains a key feature of the Italian series and forms round five of the 2012 IRC.

KEY FEATURES
Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia, to give the event its full title, will present a tough test for the IRC regulars as they go up against the cream of the Italian championship on high-speed, undulating Tarmac stages east of Palermo, Sicily’s capital city.

Because of the Mediterranean island’s intense heat, the road surface is prone to softening, which makes the asphalt slippery and bumpy in nature as a result. Grip levels also change frequently, which increases the challenge facing the crews.

In keeping with the event’s origins, the stages are effectively extended versions of race circuits with wide open corners so a precise driving style and car set-up is vital in order to achieve optimal cornering and exit speeds. And because of the high speeds achieved, engines are subjected to significant stress levels.

The format of the modern-day Targa differs to other IRC rounds with the action contained within five different stage layouts: a single run over the Citta’ Di Palmero stage on Thursday night, three passes over the Targa and Collesano stages on Friday and two runs over the Cefalu and Castelbuono stages on Saturday. The Collesano and Castelbuono stages haven’t been used since the 1980s and are therefore unchartered territory for the leading contenders.

Fans flock to the stages in great number in Sicily and the addition of the IRC regulars to the entry list will only increase the levels of interest. And those who can’t make it to the stages will be able to watch the key action on Eurosport.

FIVE FACTS
*Industrialist Vincenzo Florio founded the Targa Florio as an ultimate test of machinery, even though there were only 50 cars in Sicily when it was first run in 1906

*Multiple Italian champion and pre-event favourite Paolo Andreucci has won the Targa Florio six times, an event record

*When Alessandro Cagno triumphed on the inaugural event he covered a total distance of 446,469 kilometres

*IRC champion Andreas Mikkelsen has competed in Sicily before, albeit on the all-gravel Rally Conca d’Oro

*Two must-have delicacies in Sicily are arancini (fried rice balls often filled with meat and a tomato sauce) and cannoli (a tube-shaped pastry with a sweet filling)

THE BATTLE FOR VICTORY
The chase for first place on Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia is set to come down to a close fight between several leading runners from the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and their counterparts in the Campionato Italiano Rally, the Italian Rally Championship.

Paolo Andreucci, in a Peugeot Italia 207 Super 2000, is likely to set the standard his rivals must surpass if they are to win the asphalt event. With six triumphs to his name in Sicily, five of which were secured alongside current co-driver Anna Andreussi, the Italian veteran will be hard to beat.

One driver aiming to prevent Andreucci from claiming victory number seven is Giandomenico Basso. The double European champion and four-time IRC event winner has never won the Targa Florio but will be a strong contender in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC.

IRC frontrunners Jan Kopecký and Andreas Mikkelsen will be taking part on Targa Florio for the first time this year and will be expected to take the fight to Andreucci and Basso. Kopecký, currently second in the IRC drivers’ standings, lines up for the factory ŠKODA Motorsport team, while Mikkelsen, the defending IRC champion and current title leader, will drive a Fabia S2000 for ŠKODA UK Motorsport.

Craig Breen is another Targa Florio rookie vying for a strong result. The Irishman, a point-scorer on his two previous IRC outings this season, is making a one-off appearance in an HRT Motorsport Peugeot 207 before returning to his regular team, Saintéloc Racing, for the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium, which takes place one week after Targa Florio.

Peugeot drivers Matteo Gamba and Alessandro Perico and Umberto Scandola (ŠKODA) are three other drivers aiming to impress, while Sepp Wiegand will be looking to make it five points finishes in a row for ŠKODA Auto Deutschland. The promising German driver arrives in Sicily on the back of his circuit racing debut in Austria earlier this month. Meanwhile, Rashid Al-Ketbi will be aiming to increase his experience of asphalt competition in his Skydive Dubai-backed Fabia.

IRC Production Cup
Johan Heloïse makes his long-awaited return to the IRC after contesting selected events in 2011. The Martinique driver will be at the wheel of a Top Run Motorsport-prepared Subaru Impreza and will be expected to challenge for category honours, as will Vitaliy Pushkar, who forms part of the Dream Team Ukraine operation in a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. However, both drivers will face a tough battle to beat Marco Tempestini. Born in Italy but now living in Romania, Tempestini hasn’t enjoyed much luck in his Impreza R4 this season but has the pace to secure top spot in the showroom class.

IRC 2WD Cup
Reigning Italian Junior champion Simone Campedelli will be among the favourites to win the IRC 2WD Cup in his Citroën DS3 R3T but he will face strong opposition from Briton Harry Hunt, who will drive a similar DS3, and Estonian Martin Kangur, who makes his first start of the year in a Honda Civic Type R. Andrea Nucita lives in Sicily so will be looking to capitalise on his local knowledge in his C2, while Finnish Renault Twingo driver Mikko Pajunen is highly-rated and can count on the services of experienced co-driver Kaj Lindström.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: PAOLO ANDREUCCI
Six-time event winner on taking on the IRC big guns in Sicily

Having won this event so many times do you consider yourself to be the favourite and how much pressure does this put you under?
“It’s true that I’ve won this rally many times, but every time you go on the start ramp the scores are set to zero and you start again. As always our aim is to try and win, but there are lots of people who will have exactly the same aim, so it won’t be easy. Mostly when I drive though, I feel enjoyment rather than pressure. We will do our best and hope that is enough.”

We're not expecting you to reveal all your secrets but what does it take to win this rally?
“There’s no secret in particular: it’s just experience and a feeling for the roads. The Targa Florio is quite bumpy and slippery, so there’s not a lot of grip. You need to have an instinct for where the grip is and of course good tyres. We are privileged to have Pirelli as our tyre partner, so this definitely gives us an advantage.”

As well as your rivals from the Italian championship you're also up against several leading runners from the IRC. What do you think of the competition?
“I’ve been in the IRC before and I know that the level of competition is fantastic: this year even more than before. It’s nice to be able to measure yourself against world class drivers, so everyone is very happy that the IRC is coming to Sicily.”

What's the best stage on the rally and why?
“I think the most important stages will probably be the two new stages, Collesano and Castelbuono, as it’s somewhere that nobody will have an advantage. On most of the event I’ll be able to use my experience but here we all start on a level playing field and it will be very interesting to see who pushes the hardest.”

What's the biggest challenge on the rally?
“Probably to somebody coming into this event for the first time, it’s getting your head around the specific nature of the roads. They’re like nowhere else in Italy: quite slippery and bumpy, with grip that changes quite a lot. It’s the sort of event where it’s very easy to make a stupid little mistake, so the main thing is to keep the concentration and make sure you judge the grip correctly. There are lots of local specialists as well: if you can beat them, you are doing well.”

Craig Breen to drive HRT Motorsport 207 at IRC Targa Florio Rally

Posted: June 4, 2012 8:09 AM

World Rally Academy Champion Craig Breen currently competing in the IRC with French Team Sainteloc Racing is now delighted to announce that he will take part in IRC Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia June 14-16 driving a HRT Motorsport Peugeot 207 S2000.

Making the announcement Craig said,
"It's a great opportunity for me to drive with HRT Motorsport in the IRC. I’m looking forward to driving the Peugeot 207 S2000 once again, and we will try very hard to put in a good result for the team and aim for a good points haul for our IRC campaign. This opportunity gives me some more time behind the wheel of the Peugeot 207 on tarmac, after Targa Florio I will return to Sainteloc Racing for IRC Ypres which comes up the following week, so busy but exciting times."

Craig Breen to complete

Posted: June 2, 2012 8:26 PM

Craig Breen with compete on the Targa Florio Rally with HRT Motorsport in a Peugeot 207 S2000

Legendary Targa Florio replaces Mecsek Rallye on IRC schedule for 2012

Posted: May 17, 2012 2:59 PM

The world famous Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia will form another exciting addition to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for 2012 following its confirmation as round five of the all-action series from 14-16 June.

With its origins in the high-speed road race conquered by legends such as Sir Stirling Moss and Sandro Munari, Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia is based on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and uses all-asphalt stages over a competitive distance of 170 kilometres.

The event replaces the Canon Mecesk Rallye on the IRC schedule for 2012 after organisers of the Hungarian rally were forced to end their two-year agreement with IRC promoter Eurosport Events due to economic constraints.
Eurosport Events immediately began negotiations with ACI Palermo to partner with one of the oldest and most prestigious motorsport competitions in existence.

As well as counting as a round of the IRC, Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia is also part of the prestigious Campionato Italiano Rally, the Italian Rally Championship, and competitors from that series will be eligible for IRC points.

Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia is ideally timetabled taking place one month after round four, Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse. It will begin with a city stage on the evening of Thursday 14 June. With the finish scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday June 16, teams will be able to take overnight ferries to the cities of Genova or Livorno on the Italian mainland to enable their onward travel to Belgium for the GEKO Ypres Rally from 21-23 June.

“We are delighted to include the famous Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia in our schedule for 2012,” said IRC Commercial Director Antonello Lodoletti. “While we never like to adjust the calendar once the season is underway, we are delighted to welcome such a strong rally brand into the IRC. Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia will surely be one of the sporting hits of the season.”

Antonio Marasco, President of ACI Palermo, said:
“Being included on the IRC calendar for 2012 is a tremendous opportunity for our rally and our partners. We will benefit from strong international television coverage and witness a thrilling spectacle on the stages as the leading competitors from the Italian Rally Championship go head to head with the top drivers from the IRC. This can only raise the competitiveness of Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia in 2012. We know Eurosport's expertise in producing quality television programmes on the IRC and how this will greatly promote our beautiful region and landscape.”

The event’s headquarters are located in Campofelice di Roccella with the permanent service park housed in Termini Imersese. Both locations are east of the capital Palermo.

Details of Eurosport’s coverage of the Targa Florio-Rally Internazionale Di Sicilia will be announced in due course.

Targa Florio: the legend lives on
The legendary Targa Florio is one of the oldest motorsport events in Italy, created in 1906 by amateur racer Vincenzo Florio. Originally it consisted of a road race around the whole of Sicily, but by the 1930s it was down to a 72-kilometre lap on public roads, called the Circuito delle Madonie – which was repeated 11 times. Covering nearly 1000 kilometres, drivers were usually split into teams of two.

The route was fearsome, consisting of several hairpin bends and narrow mountain roads with changeable grip, which the spectators adored. Many of the biggest heroes of the sport competed on the roads of the ‘Targa’: winners include Sir Stirling Moss, Vic Elford, Arturo Merzario and Sandro Munari.

For a week before the race, drivers were allowed to practice with the roads still open: many of them were the actual race cars with temporary number plates attached. Although the roads were twisty and average speeds low, a number of accidents meant that the road race was discontinued after 1977.

Instead, the Targa Florio was resurrected as a stage rally in 1978, joining the Italian Rally Championship (where it still is now) and using sections of the original Madonie circuit. The Targa Florio has also formed part of the European Rally Championship.

The most successful driver on the event is reigning Italian champion Paolo Andreucci, who has won in Sicily six times.

It’s an event that has gone down in cultural as well as sporting history: Porsche named its open-topped cars ‘Targa’ as a tribute to this spectacular race.

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