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A Tribute to the Targa Florio

This year’s edition of the Tribute to Targa Florio, starting and finishing in the Sicilian capital Palermo, gave Ferrari fans unforgettable experiences as drivers and much else besides
Words – Gavin Green

The Targa Florio was regarded as the world’s toughest endurance sports car race.

Competitors raced through the mountains of Sicily on a course that was both scenic, challenging and often terrifying.

Winners included legendary drivers such as Tazio Nuvolari, Stirling Moss, Piero Taruffi and more recently local hero Nino Vaccarella, who died only last month aged 88. Ferrari is a seven-times winner, most recently with Arturo Merzario's victory in 1972 driving a 312PB.

The Ferrari Tribute to Targa Florio has become a highly important event on the streets of Sicily

The sports car race was founded in 1906 and stopped in 1977 due to safety concerns. Yet sports car drivers can still experience the thrills of the legendary Targa.

Ferraris built since 1991 can compete in their own special class, Ferrari Tribute. This year's event ran from 15-17 October, starting and finishing in the Sicilian capital Palermo. There were more than 80 Ferrari entries including the SF90 Stradale, F8 Tributo, Roma, F8 Spider and the Portofino M.

A beautiful display of Ferrari models paired with beautiful, and often challenging, weather

Unlike the original high-speed sports car race, competitors get to enjoy the scenery by stopping at historic sites and tasting fine cuisine. But there is plenty of demanding driving, too.

Day one' route took drivers from the start of the at the historic University of Palermo. After a 150km stage inland, competitors enjoyed lunch at the Cantine Florio winery in Marsala, on Sicily's west coast. They then ventured back to Palermo on a 174km route via the scenic coastal road through Castellamare del Golfo, famous for its medieval fortress still standing defiant in the harbour.

Day two gave drivers a real flavour of the old Targa Florio, as they met the challenge of the Madonie mountains. Much of the route was on the famous 72-km Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie, the track used for the last few decades (1951-77) of the race. In addition, drivers also did much of the old longer 108-km Medio circuit - used from 1919-30 - which had an astonishing 1400 corners per lap. The day's total distance, on particularly challenging roads, was 228km.

The Ferrari Tribute and Targa Florio Classica drew a crowd wherever they went

After the demands of day two, the final day saw a short 38km scenic drive out of Palermo to Monreale, famed for its wonderful Norman cathedral perched on the side of a mountain. That evening competitors enjoyed a lavish awards ceremony, after yet another unforgettable tribute to the Targa Florio.