Meregalli (Diatto)
9 Guido Meregalli
G. Meregalli
Diatto 20S
Cirio (Fiat)
21 Nino Cirio
N. Cirio
Fiat 501 S
Marconcini (Chiribiri)
14 Alete Marconcini
A. Marconcini
Chiribiri Monza


Circuito del Garda - Salo (I), 25 November 1923.
20 laps x 12.36 km (7.68 mi) = 247.2 km (153.61 mi)

Category up to 1100 cc --- Category over 1101 cc to 1500 --- Category over 1501 cc to 2000 cc
1Eugenio SilvaniSilvani & BottaS.-B.1.5S-4
2Fausto AlbertiF. AlbertiBugatti Silvani1.5S-4DNA - Did not appear
3Carlo GuindaniC. GuindaniBugatti Silvani1.5S-4
4Domenico AntonelliCount D. AntonelliBugattiT302.0S-8
5Giacinto TebaldiG. TebaldiBugatti1.5S-4
6Theo HennigT. HennigBugatti2.0S-8
7Diego De SterlichD. De SterlichBugattiT302.0S-8
8Giulio BindaG. BindaAmilcarC41.1S-4
9Guido MeregalliG. MeregalliDiatto20S2.0S-4
10Giulio GabardiG. GabardiFiatDNA - Did not appear
11Alberto OstaliA. OstaliAnzaniair cooled0.75S-2
12Gigi PlatèG. PlatèFiat501 S1.5S-4
13Antonio MasperiA. MasperiBianchiTipo 182.0S-4
14Alete MarconciniA. MarconciniChiribiriMonza1.5S-4
15Gino MinciottiG. MinciottiAnsaldo2.0S-4DNA - Did not appear
16Luigi PaganiL. PaganiAGA6/30 hp1.5S-4DNA - Did not appear
17Tazio NuvolariT. NuvolariChiribiriMonza1.5S-4
18Giovanni BrigoniG. BrigoniFiatDiesel1.5S-4
19Costantino PetromilliC. PetromilliPetromilli1.1S-4DNA - Did not appear
20Vittoria ManacordaDonna Vittoria Simonotti ManacordaAmilcarC41.1S-4
21Nino CirioN. CirioFiat501 S1.5S-4
22Cesare BrambillaC. BrambillaAnzaniair cooled0.75S-2
23Dante CantoniD. CantoniBianchi182.0S-4DNA - Did not appear
24"Deo" ChiribiriChiribiri & CoChiribiriMonza S1.5S-4
25Federico ValpredaF. ValpredaFiatDNA - Did not appear

Meregalli wins Garda Circuit with Diatto

by Hans Etzrodt
The 18 starters were divided into three categories at the Garda Circuit race over 20 laps, when three Bugattis battled with one Diatto and one Bianchi in the 2000 category. Three Chiribiris raced with three Fiats, two Silvanis and one Bugatti in the 1500 group. The four small cars of the 1100 category had their own duel. Nuvolari's Chiribiri was fastest and held the lead until his car broke down on lap ten. Then Marconcini in the other Chiribiri led but De Sterlich's Bugatti was first on the 15th lap. As of lap 17 Meregalli (Diatto) took the lead which he held until the finish ahead of Cirio (Fiat), Marconcini (Chiribiri), Binda (Amilcar), Guindani (Bugatti Silvani) and donna Simonotti (Amilcar) sixth. The remaining 11 cars retired while De Sterlich's Bugatti crashed just meters ahead of the finish line and was not classified.
The Comitato Nazionale per il Garda with help from the Automobile Club di Milano organized this third race on the Circuito del Garda. The first event dated back to 1921 and in the following two years the circuit length was increased to 12.360 km, driving 20 laps, a total of 247.200 km. The race was held near Salò on the western shores of Lake Garda. Starting in Salò the circuit headed south, snaking up the curves of the Zette hill, reaching Cunettone after 4.3 km. Then the course headed north-west past Villa for 4.5 km to Tormini, where the road dropped back to Salo after 3.4 km. The road condition of the circuit was not ideal, as there were sharp pebbles and rock debris. The 25 entries were divided into three categories, 1100, 1500 and 2000 cc. The maximum time for each category would expire 20 minutes after the arrival of the category winner. The race numbers were assigned in the order of entry forms accepted.
In the 2000 category, Count Antonelli, Diego de Sterlich and Theo Hennig had the fastest cars in the race, Bugattis of 1922 design, 8-cylinder type 30 with a 1989 cc (60 x 88 mm) single o.h.c. engine with three valves per cylinder. Last year's winner, Guido Meregalli, entered again with a Diatto 20S Grand Prix car with a 1,997 cc (79.7x100 mm), 4-cylinder twin o.h.v. engine, delivering 75 hp at 4,500 rpm and a top speed of 155 km/h. Antonio Masperi drove a 2-Liter Bianchi type 18 with front brakes. Alessandro Silva explained, the Bianchi Tipo 18 was a 4-cyl 72x120 of 1954 cc built in 1923/25, preceded by the side valve Tipo 12 and 15 of 1919/1922 of 1693cc, updated to the Tipo 16 in 1923/1924. The Tipo 18 was the first oh valve Bianchi engine if we exclude the two examples so called Corsa built for the Autumn Grand Prix at Monza in 1922 (two ohc and 16 oh valves) which were seldom raced after and only by works and certainly were not at Garda in 1923. The S after the Tipo 18 is apocryphal [= fabricated] and stands for a Tipo 18 specially tuned for racing, but was not an official model.
      Three of the fast Chiribiri Monza type were entered in the 1500 category with a 1486 cc (65 x 112 mm), 4-cylinder, twin o.h.c. engine, producing 72 hp at 5,100 rpm, able to reach speeds of 165 km/h, and were driven by 'Deo' Chiribiri (Amadeo, the son of the constructor), by Tazio Nuvolari and Alete Marconcini. They were to battle against two Fiat 501 S, with 1486 cc (65 x112 mm), 4-cylinder engines, quoted at 55 hp at 4500 rpm with 2650 mm wheelbase, which were driven by Nino Cirio and Gigi Platè. Two cars appeared from Eugenio Silvani. The engineer Silvani together with the shareholder Botta founded in 1920 an Italian automotive company based in Milan that produced cars under the brand name SB (Silvani & Botta) until 1924. Cars were entered also just as a Silvani. Eugenio Silvani developed a cylinder head and built up the engine of a Fiat 501 and increased the performance significantly. According to Alessandro Silva, the 1923 Silvani car at Garda Circuit was a 1500 Bugatti-Silvani for Guindani, while Silvani entered the car as S.B. Also, one 1500 Bugatti was entered by Giacinto Tebaldi and a Fiat Diesel car for Giovanni Brigoni.
      The 1100 category comprised two Amilcars of Giulio Binda and Donna Vittoria Simonotti Manacorda. There were also two small 750 cc, air-cooled Anzani cars for Alberto Ostali and Cesare Brambilla. A complete list of 25 entries is at the beginning of this report.
      Practice was held on the closed circuit on Friday from 12 to 5 PM. Scrutineering took place on Saturday from 9 AM to 12 and from 2 PM to 5, including the verification of the drivers' documents and the weight of the crews. The location of the control operation was set at the Salò piazza, in a special enclosure towards the lake.
On Sunday morning the weather was cold and miserable. Seven drivers did not appear for the start, including Alberti, Gabardi, Minciotti, Pagani, Petromilli, Cantoni and Valpreda.
      The start was given at the Piazza della Fossa in Salo. The 18 cars were released separately with 20 seconds intervals from each other. The 1100 cars started first, followed by the 1500 and the 2000 cars last. The starting order for each category was by the race number, with the lowest number first. The start was given to each driver from a standstill with the engine running. Around 12 o'clock the general commissioner Gino Galli conducted the start, assisted by the timekeepers cavaliere Macoratti and Mr. Ottolini. Binda (Amilcar) was the first to start.
      The sky remained overcast; some drops of rain would fall during the race. The roads especially on the descent of Tormini appeared to be slippery and the race was expected to proceed with lower speed averages. At the end of the first lap Binda was also the first who appeared at the finish. The cars passed with no significant changes in the starting order. But there were two retirements, "Deo" (1500 Chiribiri) was forced to retire due to a breakdown, and Silvani (S. B.) due to loss of the loosely fixed magneto on its support.
      Nuvolari who had started in tenth place, immediately attacked and was second on the road at the end of the second lap. Binda, Tebaldi, Antonelli and Masperi followed him in this order. At the end of the third lap Nuvolari was still in the lead and had taken also first place on the road. Meregalli (Diatto) and Marconcini (Chiribiri) tried to keep up with him. On the fourth lap Nuvolari set a lap record in 8m36.8s at 86.099 km/h average speed. On the same lap the megaphone announced that Masperi (Bianchi) after a backfire in Tormini had a fire that forced him to retire. On the fifth lap, Ostali (Anzani) ended his race with differential failure. The 1100 category was led by Brambilla (Anzani) ahead of Binda (Amilcar) and Donna Simonetti (Amilcar). Guindani (Bugatti Silvani) who stopped repeatedly at the pits, dropped to the end of the field including Brigoni (Fiat Diesel) who with great delay was even further behind. Nuvolari's average lap time over the first five laps was 8m48.4s with the order of the 14-car field as follows after five laps:
1.Nuvolari (Chiribiri)     44m02.2s1500 cccategory
2.Meregalli (Diatto)     47m11.4s2000 cc
3.Marconcini (Chiribiri)     48m15.8s1500 cc
4.Tebaldi (Bugatti)     49m31.6s--- " ---
5.Antonelli (Bugatti)     49m54.8s2000 cc
6.De Sterlich (Bugatti)     51m24.8s--- " ---
7.Hennig (Bugatti)     51m42.0s--- " ---
8.Platè (Fiat)     52m00.0s1500cc[time estimated, as the car was not listed]
9.Brambilla (Anzani)     52m10.6s1100 cc
10.Binda (Amilcar)     52m16.2s--- " ---
11.Cirio (Fiat)     54m57.0s1500cc1 lap behind
12.Simonetti (Amilcar)     58m45.0s1100 cc1 lap behind
13.Guindani (Bugatti Silvani)1h17m45.6s1500 cc2 laps behind
14.Brigoni (Fiat)1h45m00.0s--- " ---[time estimated]

Nuvolari's confident race continued in the lead followed by Marconcini, Meregalli and Binda, who bravely managed to get close on lap eight. After Meregalli had moved to second place, he had to stop due to a faulty front brake rod on his Diatto. Marconcini, Binda and De Sterlich passed the Diatto in the pits and placed themselves behind Nuvolari. Tebaldi (1500 Bugatti) and Brigoni (1500 Fiat) retired. When Brambilla (1100 Anzani) lost a wheel of his car, he remained miraculously unharmed. On the 9th lap Nuvolari slowed down with gearbox problems. On the following lap he retired with a broken gearbox and pushed the Chiribiri into a ditch. His retirement allowed Maconcini (Chiribiri) into the lead. De Sterlich had climbed from sixth to second place with Meregalli third, followed by Binda, Hennig and Platè. The tail group was formed by Cirio, Antonelli, Simonetti and Guindani. Marconcini in the lead averaged a lap time of 9m57.6s over the last five laps with the 10-car field in the following order after ten laps:
1.Marconcini (Chiribiri)1h38m05.0s1500 cccategory
2.De Sterlich (Bugatti)1h40m38.8s2000 cc
3.Meregalli (Diatto)1h42m11.2s--- " ---
4.Binda (Amilcar)1h44m42.6s1100cc
5.Hennig (Bugatti)1h45m30.0s2000cc
6.Platè (Fiat)1h46m40.6s1500cc
7.Cirio (Fiat)1h49m17.6s--- " ---1 lap behind
8.Antonelli (Bugatti)1h57m07.4s2000cc1 lap behind
9.Simonetti (Amilcar)2h00m52.0s1100cc2 laps behind
10.Guindani (Bugatti Silvani)2h09m15.6s1500cc3 laps behind

Mid-race was the time for refueling when the leading Chiribiri of Marconcini ran into trouble with several stops to change spark plugs. The crowd applauded the leaders and cheered at each passage of Donna Simonetti. Shortly before lapping one of the cars, Merigalli nearly overturned but immediately resumed the battle. Marconcini remained in the lead. Binda stopped at the pits to refuel while the Amilcar of donna Simonetti was two laps behind. Guindani had a magnificent recovery and was able to pass Simonetti. After Hennig was forced to retire and Binda dropped behind, Platè advanced to fourth place. Meregalli was still delayed by tire breakdowns but after his pit stop, he steadily gained ground. On the 15th lap Marconcini suffered long delays due to repeat changes of spark plugs to his fast Chiribiri. This enabled De Sterlich to take the lead and his average lap time over the last five laps was 10m14.5s with the order of the 9-car field as follows at the end of the 15th lap:
1.De Sterlich (Bugatti)2h31m51.4s2000 cc[time estimated; see: In retrospect]
2.Meregalli (Diatto)2h33m19.8s--- " ---
3.Marconcini (Chiribirii)2h37m26.6s1500cc
4.Platè (Fiat)2h39m03.6s--- " ---
5.Cirio (Fiat)2h42m41.8s--- " ---1 lap behind
6.Antonelli (Bugatti)2h44m54.6s2000cc1 lap behind
7.Binda (Amilcar)2h48m01.4s1100cc1 lap behind
8.Guindani (Bugatti Silvani)2h58m32.6s1500cc2 laps behind
9.Simonetti (Amilcar)2h59m16.0s1100cc2 laps behind

De Sterlich, Meregalli and Platè were driving with perfect regularity and passed in this order at the end of the 16th lap followed by Marconcini and Cirio. Antonelli, Binda, Guindani and donna Simonetti had been lapped and formed the tail of the field. At the passage of the 17th lap, in front of the stands, Meregalli reached De Sterlich. The fight was now decided in favor of the Diatto driver, who took the lead. Platè 's Fiat experienced a backfire with the car which caught fire and resulted in his retirement.
      After twenty laps, the most complete driver won and crossed the finish line after 3h20m43.8s. Guido Meregalli's victory was that of a favorite who already won the Garda circuit the year before and who had won the 1920 Targa Florio. A few minutes later when De Sterlich arrived at the finish, he was breaking into the narrow space of the refueling pits, ahead of the timekeepers' table, which included the finish line. De Sterlich had been deceived by the stop signal given to him before the finish line and by the fact that - against all customs - there was no banner today with the words "finish line". So, he stopped at the pit fifteen or twenty meters ahead of the timekeepers. Informed of the error and wanting to pass the finish line, he could not go directly forward because the retired car of Silvani was allowed to remain in front of the pits and blocked his way. Therefore, De Sterlich in the Bugatti backed up into the track, when at the same moment Antonelli arrived at high speed. Despite hard braking, the cars collided at reduced speed, accompanied by cries from the crowd. Through the force of the impact, De Sterlich's Bugatti was knocked forward to the timekeeper's table, but hit Silvani's car parked at the pits, which saved the timekeepers. Antonelli retired just meters ahead of the finish line; because he was a lap behind, he completed only 18 laps. The commissioners gathered immediately and decided not to include De Sterlich in the results. It was not mentioned if De Sterlich did eventually cross the finish line or not, as timekeepers issued his time of 3h23m48.6s. It was also unknown how the Sporting Commission would judge the circumstances mentioned above, especially with the lack of the finish banner.
      The complex and vast organization turned out to be a success under the watchful eye of Engineer and general commissioner Galli. The De Sterlich case was the only flaw in the framework of the magnificent race.



1.9Guido MeregalliG. MeregalliDiatto20S2.0S-420 3h20m43.8s
2.21Nino CirioN. CirioFiat501 S1.5S-4203h36m43.4s+ 15m59.6s
3.14Alete MarconciniA. MarconciniChiribiriMonza1.5S-4203h42m58.0s+ 22m14.2s
4.8Giulio BindaG. BindaAmilcarC41.1S-4203h44m09.6s+ 23m25.8s
5.3Carlo GuindaniC. GuindaniBugatti Silvani1.5S-4203h53m10.4s+ 32m26.6s
6.20Vittoria ManacordaDonna Vittoria Simonotti ManacordaAmilcarC41.1S-4203h59m48.2s+ 39m04.4s
DNC7Diego De SterlichD. De SterlichBugattiT302.0S-8193h23m48.6s, crash
DNF4Domenico AntonelliCount D. AntonelliBugattiT302.0S-818crash
DNF12Gigi PlatèG. PlatèFiat501 S1.5S-415fire 
DNF6Theo HennigT. HennigBugatti2.0S-814mechanical
DNF22Cesare BrambillaC. BrambillaAnzaniair cooled0.75S-29crash, lost a wheel
DNF17Tazio NuvolariT. NuvolariChiribiriMonza1.5S-49gearbox 
DNF5Giacinto TebaldiG. TebaldiBugatti1.5S-45crankshaft bearing
DNF18Giovanni BrigoniG. BrigoniFiatDiesel1.5S-45mechanical 
DNF13Antonio MasperiA. MasperiBianchiTipo 182.0S-44fire
DNF11Alberto OstaliA. OstaliAnzaniair cooled0.75S-24differential 
DNF24"Deo" ChiribiriChiribiri & CoChiribiriMonza S1.5S-40mechanical 
DNF1Eugenio SilvaniSilvani & BottaS.-B.1.5S-40magneto 
Fastest lap: Tazio Nuvolari (Chiribiri) on lap 4 in 8m36.8s at 86.1 km/h (53.5 mph).
Winner's average speed: 73.9 km/h (45.9 mph).
Weather: cold, overcast with brief rain.
In retrospect:
De Sterlich's intermediate time after his 15th lap was adjusted. His time was given in 2h21m51.4 s and his average lap time over his last five laps had to be 8m26.5s. However, 8m36.8s, 10 seconds more, was Nuvolari's official lap record and it is very unlikely that De Sterlich all of a sudden was setting 5 consecutive faster laps than Nuvolari's record. As a result, we adjusted De Sterlich's time from 2h21m51.4 to 2h31m 51.4s, suspecting a timing or typing error. Below are De Sterlich's times from start to finish, including the corrected time after lap 15.

Race lapsIntermed. timeTime taken
Lap 1-5     51m24.8s51m24.8s
Lap 6-101h40m38.8s49m14.0s
Lap 11-152h31m51.4s51m12.6s
Lap 16-203h23m48.6s51m57.2s

The final result times differed between the sources and we believe to have selected the correct times for this report.

The Garda Circuit length of 12.360 km x 20 laps = 247.200 km race length, was used in 1922 and 1923 while 12.236 km circuit length was used in 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926 with 20 laps and 1927 with 25 laps.

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
La Gazetta dello Sport, Milano
L'Impero, Roma
MOTOR der Flug, Wien
Stadium, Barcelona
Special thanks to:
Alessandro Silva
Giuseppe Prisco
Giancarlo Cavallini for his book Circuito del Garda


© 2021 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 16.01.2021