This year, the legendary Targa Florio – the venue for the latest round of the Italian Rally Championship this weekend – celebrates its 99th running: a benchmark it shares with the Indy 500. In actual fact though, the Targa Florio is older, having first run in 1906. The Indy 500 didn’t begin until 1911.
Since 1978, the original road race around the Madonie circuit has become a stage rally for reasons of safety. The challenge of this legendary event still remains however. The roads are fast but often bumpy as well, making it hard to find grip. The route has often been nicknamed ‘the asphalt university”, as it presents a number of big challenges for drivers and tyre-makers. History nonetheless relates that Pirelli has enjoyed a huge amount of success on the event, both when it was a road race in the past and now as a modern rally.
|Paolo Andreucci on the Targa Florio last year|
The most successful driver on the Targa Florio in recent history is Peugeot Italia’s Paolo Andreucci, who has claimed eight wins in the last 12 years – including victory on the last two Targas. Co-driven as always by Anna Andreussi, the reigning Italian champion is looking to extend his winning streak in Sicily with the Peugeot 208 T16. “I love Sicily and this is an event that is very well-suited to me and the tyres, but I am not taking anything for granted,” said Andreucci. “Our rivals are very strong and the stages are tricky enough when it is dry, let alone if it is wet – which is a possibility. I know that I can rely on a strong car though and the usual adaptability and performance from our Pirelli tyres. So obviously I’m going to be aiming for overall victory to reinforce my championship lead, with this being the halfway point of the season.”
Pirelli will use mostly the P Zero RX7B for four-wheel drive cars and the harder RX5 for two-wheel drive cars. In both cases, the RE7 will be used if it rains.
Following on from the company-wide philosophy of creating opportunities for young talent and privateers, Pirelli is also currently dominating the Junior and Production categories in the Italian Rally Championship, as well as supplying the Renault one-make trophies.
The Targa Florio gets underway tonight (Thursday) with the traditional opening ceremony in Palermo city centre. The 12 all-asphalt special stages will be run on Friday and Saturday, with the finish at Campofelice di Roccella on Saturday lunchtime.
Pirelli’s presence on the Targa Florio
Most of the drivers starting the event have chosen Pirelli tyres, for their established speed, reliability and technology. As well as Andreucci, other Pirelli-equipped competitors include Sebastien Chardonnet (Ford Fiesta R5), who finished second at the Rally dell’Adriatico and Alessandro Perico (Peugeot 208 T16), who won the season-opening Ciocco Rally and aims to return to the top of the privateer standings.
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Anthony Peacock • +44 7765 896 930 • firstname.lastname@example.org