The myth of the Targa Florio put the crews to the test during the two days of competition that characterised the Targa Florio Historic Regularity Rally.
The competitors challenged each other on the legendary 'Circuito delle Madonie': 9 average tests for a total of 176 km on the roads that made the Cursa famous.
The participants revived the pits of Floriopoli, witness to decades of Targa Florio history, where the scrutineering operations took place, before moving to the centre of Palermo for the starting ceremony of the second round of the 2023 Italian Medium Regularity Championship.
It was here, in front of the Palazzo dei Normanni, that the 39 crews took possession of the roadbook for the first time.
Between counts and distances, therefore, the concentration and pre-race tension of the crews was very high. The Sicilian leg of the CIRM, in fact, kept the race route secret until a few minutes before the start of each stage, highlighting the talents of the best navigators.
At the start were the best interpreters of this speciality, such as the reigning Italian champion Paolo Concari and his trusty Lancia Delta HF 4WD, the fresh winner of the Rally Due Valli, Nicola Manzini on Beta Coupè, Marco Gandino on Ritmo 130 Abarth, Luigi Zampaglione on Fiat 131 Abarth and Enrico Bertolini on Beta Montecarlo.
Also at the start was the much-admired Fiat 1100 S Ala D'oro with the local crew made up of tuner Fabrizio Falanga and Daniele Spataro.
Among the entrants was also an exceptional competitor: the President of the Automobile Club of Italy Angelo Sticchi Damiani (N 522), who did not want to miss the Sicilian leg of the top Acisport series dedicated to Medium Regularity.
On board the Fiat 124 Abarth, with which he has taken part in several rallies in the past, he set up a family challenge with his son Francesco competing in an Alfa Romeo GT.
Under a blazing sun, the cars set off towards the three stages of the first day of the race: the secret stages of the first leg were positioned at PM 'Targa' , "Lascari - Gratteri" and "Cefalù".
Marco Gandino and Carlo Merenda in a Fiat Ritmo 130 TC (No. 508) signed the first leg of the race by winning the first and third stages, while Maurizio Gandolfo navigated by Marco Frascaroli (No. 529) in an Innocenti Mini Cooper, won PM 2 with just 52 total penalties.
A first day of competition also characterised by the performance of Nicola Manzini and Roberto Ricci (N 519) in a Lancia Beta Coupè who fought for the top positions, having to be content with an excellent second place on Friday.
Concari-Androvandi (No. 501) in their Lancia Delta scored two third places in the first two races, which secured them the third step on the podium at the end of the first day.
Saturday reserved for the crews three more medium tests, to be repeated twice, between the roads that branch off into the picturesque Madonie park: "Piano Battaglia", "Geraci Siculo" and "Castelbuono".
On the first lap Marco Gandino repelled the attacks of Paolo Concari on the 21 kilometres of the "Piano Battaglia" and Maurizio Gandolfo on the 16 kilometres of the "Geraci Siculo", before conquering the "Castelbuono".
After the regrouping in the village of Collesano, where it was possible to admire the historical relics of the Museum of the Targa Florio, the participants set off again for the second round of stages where the classification leaders, Gandino-Merenda dominated on two of the three stages, leaving only the "Castelbuono 2 " to the Audi Quattro of Ermanno Keller and Marianna Ambrogi (512) who closed the PM with just 15 penalties.
At the final finish, on the Belvedere of Termini Imerese, big celebration for Gandino-Merenda who, with a total of 549 penalties, won the Targa Florio Historic Regularity Rally 2023.
Second place overall, for the Lancia Delta of Italian champions Paolo Concari and Cristiano Androvandi with 701 total penalties, who preceded by just 35 penalties the Beta Coupé of Verona-based Nicola Manzini and Roberto Ricci,
A podium entirely occupied by the bearers of the Scuderia del Grifone, which took first place in the team classification.
Interesting challenges for the conquest of the groupings that award points for the Italian Championship.
In group one, Francesco Liberatore and Francesco Cartesi took first place in their Alfa Romeo 1900 Super. Behind the crew of Milano Autostoriche are Falanga- Spataro and their Fiat 1100S Ala d'oro, who pay the risky choice of the "high average".
In the second grouping, solo victory for Giovanni and Marzia Veneziano in a Porsche 356 of the Messina Classic Team.
Roberto Crugnola and Annalisa Mentasti, in a Lancia Fulvia Coupè HF - Milano Autostoriche excelled in Group 3 with a total of 1849 penalties.
Second place for the Alfa Romeo GT Junior 1300 of Gianfranco and Sergio Mavaro - Scuderia Ateneo Motorsport.
Francesco Cocorullo and Ernesto Piraino, in a twin car, close the podium.
Fourth grouping saw the victory, with 736 penalties, of Nicola Manzini and Roberto Ricci in a Lancia Beta Coupè. Behind the driver from Verona came the Audi Quattro of team-mates Ermanno Keller and Marianna Ambrogi with a total of 936 penalties.
Third place in the group for Angelo Sticchi Damiani and the trusty Fiat 124 Abarth.
In the fifth grouping, behind the first two crews in the overall classification, Gandino and Concari, came Fabio Verdona and Pier Francesco Fagliano on board the Peugeot 205 Gti 1600 of the Scuderia del Grifone.
Awaiting the Coppa Liburna, the third race of the championship, the classification of the tricolour acisport series sees Paolo Concari in the lead with 24 points, followed by Marco Gandino with 20 and Christian Bonnet, absent in Sicily with 16.