II° GRAN PREMIO DI TRIPOLI
Tagiura Circuit (I), 29 April 1926 (Thursday).
15 laps x 26.200 km (16.28 mi) = 393.0 km (244.2 mi)
Eysermann with Bugatti victorious at Tripoli, Platè the 1500 winner
by Hans Etzrodt
The 1926 Tripoli Grand Prix on the Tagiura circuit was held on April 29. The 11 starters were divided into two categories. The six large cars over 1500 cc started first, comprising Eyserman and Astarita in 2000
Bugattis and Siciliani (3-L Alfa Romeo), who finished in that order, and Calò (Bugatti), Trivero (Fiat) and Nicoletti (Lancia) each of whom retired. The 1500 category was won by Platè ahead of Binda both in
Chiribiris followed by Serlotti (Bugatti), who had replaced Mathis, and who finished third. Jacono-Caruso (Bugatti) and Belgir (Bugatti) retired.
The second Circuito Automobilistico della Tripolitania took place in Libya, which had been under Italian rule as a colony since 1911. The race was delayed from April 15 and was eventually held on Thursday,
April 29 which was a Fascist holiday, celebrating "the birth of Rome". The Tripoli Grand Prix was a national event staged on the fast Tagiura dirt road circuit, which at 26.200 km was shorter than the year
before. The start was at La Porta Tagiura di Tripoli on the straight road near the airfield, leading to Sugh el Giuma, then past Mellaha-Fortino to Sghedeida, then past Fornaci to Porta Sidi el Messri, then
to Raccordo, then to Porta Sidi and back to Masri-Porta Tagiura, 15 laps, a total of 393.0 km. The Automobile Club di Tripoli divided the entries into category A, up to 1500 cc and B, over 1500 cc. The road
surface of the circuit had been improved before the event.
Prize money in the categories was 10,000 lire for first, second received 5,000 and third 3,000. The overall winner was presented with 30,000 lire and the driver with the fastest lap was awarded a gold medal.
The French driver Mathis with a 1500 Bugatti was on the list of entries but at the start he was replaced by Serlotti, an unknown driver. Cavaliere Giulio Binda and Luigi Platè were 1500 Chiribiri drivers with Attilio
Belgir in a Bugatti, all came from Milan. Vittorio Astarita came from Naples with his new type 2000 Bugatti, while older types were driven by François Eysermann and Abramino "Nino" Calò who were Tunisians. Benedetto Siciliani,
also called Bettino, came from Catania where he owned the Alfa Romeo agency. At Tripoli he appeared with an Alfa Romeo RLS 3-L 6-cylinder. The complete list of entries is at the beginning of this report.
The race in Tripolitania clashed with the Alessandria Circuit race and the Coppa Vinci in Scily, both held three days later, which was a possible reason why so few drivers made the trip to Africa.
The Governor of Tripolitania, Senator Emilio De Bono, accompanied by his consort and other authorities of the Colony, attended the race and expressed his pleasure to the race drivers. All entries appeared at the start, which
was given in pairs by Mrs. Ermenia De Bono. The first pair was the Tunisians Eysermann and Calò who started at 2:00 PM with an interval of one minute to Nicoletti and Astarita, followed by Siciliani and Trivero. The
smaller cars started next, two Chiribiris and three Bugattis.
In the early part of the race, Astarita held the lead in his 2000 Bugatti ahead of Eysermann in a similar car, with the Alfa Romeo driven by Siciliani in third place. Astarita lost first place when he was slowed by two
punctures and dropped behind Eysermann. Jacono-Caruso (1500 Bugatti) and Trivero in an old Fiat retired on lap five. The 1500 Bugatti of Belgir followed on lap eight. Calò's 2000 Bugatti retired on lap 10 and
Nicoletti ended his race on lap 11. After his two punctures, Astarita's attempt to catch Eysermann was in vain but it gave him the fastest lap in 13m31.4s. Siciliani's Alfa Romeo was also delayed with a puncture
but he drove the Alfa Romeo very consistently. Eysermann who had no incidents drove at a fast pace to a deserved victory over seven minutes ahead of Astarita with Siciliani in third place. Platè in the fast Chiribiri
followed in fourth position, winning the 1500 category ahead of Binda (Chiribiri) and Serlotti (Bugatti) in sixth place. Platè, a very skilled driver, made the fastest lap in his category at 92.5 km/h average speed.
|1.||1||François Eysermann||F. Eysermann||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||15||3h31m25s|
|2.||4||Vittorio "Nino" Astarita||V. Astarita||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||15||3h38m36s||+ 7m11s|
|3.||5||Benedetto "Bettino" Siciliani||B. Siciliani||Alfa Romeo||RLS||3.0||S-6||15||3h41m48s||+ 10m23s|
|4. ||10||Luigi Platè||L. Platè||Chiribiri||Monza ||1.5||S-4||15||4h21m47s||+ 50m22s|
|5.||Giulio Binda||G. Binda||Chiribiri||1.5||S-4||15||4h34m14s||+ 1h02m49s|
|DNF||2||Nino Abramino Calò||N. A. Calò||Bugatti||T30||2.0||S-8||9|
|DNF||Attilio Belgir||A. Belgir||Bugatti||1.5||S-4||7|| || |
|DNF||3||Alberto Trivero||A. Trivero||Fiat||3/A||4.4||S-4||4|
|DNF||Antonio Jacono-Caruso||A. Jacono-Caruso||Bugatti||1.5||S-4||4|| || |
Fastest lap over 1500 cc: Vittorio Astarita (Bugatti) in 13m31.4 = 116.58 km/h (72.44 mph).|
Fastest lap up to 1500 cc: Giulio Binda (Chiribiri) in 16m32.8s = 95.00 km/h (59.03 mph).
Average speed, over 1500cc, Eysermann: 111.8 km/h (69.5 mph).
Average speed, 1500 cc, Platè: 92.5 km/h (57.5 mph).
Weather: sunshine, dry, warm.
The sparse reports were brief and lacked detailed information, at times there was inaccurate data including wrong dates of the event.
Most of the speeds given, listed above were also incorrectly calculated. Correct speeds for a 26.2 km circuit would be: Fastest lap Astaria: 116,2 km/h (72.2 mph). Average speeds, Eysermann: 111.5 km/h (69.3 mph), Platé 90.1 km/h (56.0 mph).
Primary sources researched for this article:|
ACI rivista, Torino
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
Special thanks to:
Valerio Moretti: Grand Prix Tripoli book
Circuito dei Monti Peloritani - Messina (I), 2 May 1926.
5 laps x 52 km (32.3 mi) = 260 km (161.6 mi)
Balestrero wins the Coppa Vinci for the second time with OM
by Hans Etzrodt
From the 15 cars at the start, only 6 finished the Coppa Vinci over 5 laps on the 52 km circuit. The 3000 Diattos of Fasone and Vittoria were in the lead after the first lap, ahead of Materassi
(1500 Maserati), Marano (1500 Fiat), Candrilli (4900 Steyr), Forte (2000 Bugatti), Balestrero (2200 OM), Piro (2000 Fiat), Cutelli (1500 Bugatti) and the 2000 Bugattis of Messeri and Musmeci.
Materassi retired on lap two and Fassone, Irrera (1500 Bugatti), Sillitti and Vittoria dropped out on lap three when Balestrero had moved into the lead ahead of Forte, Cutelli, Musmeci, Marano
and Piro. On lap four the order amongst the first four was unchanged but Marano had to retire. When Piro, Messeri and Forte retired on the last lap, only four cars were left to qualify in the
order Balestrero, Cutelli, Musmeci and Cucinotta (1100 S.A.M.). Candrilli and Tricomi (1500 Fiat) exceeded the maximum allowable time and did not qualify.
The second Coppa Vinci was organized by the Automobile Club di Messina under its president Vincenzo Vinci and the RACI Messina Office. The cars were divided into four categories, up to 1100 cc,
up to 1500 cc, up to 2000 cc and over 2000 cc. The race was again held on the 52 km Circuito dei Monti Peloritani, northwest of Messina. From the start at San Francesco, just to the north of Messina,
the circuit led uphill crossing the Peloritani Mountains to Colle S. Rizzo at 456 meters altitude. This consisted of rough mountain roads with long gradients and was the most difficult section of the
circuit. From the picturesque "Stairs S. Rizzo" it was downhill to Ponte Gallo at the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The remaining two thirds led along the seashore to Spartà, with another coastal
stretch to Granatari and from there along the coast of the Strait of Messina back to the start. The drivers had to complete five laps, a total of 260 km. The maximum time allowed was 40 minutes
after the class winner had finished or 80 minutes after the overall winner if in a different class. The classification was made based on time.
The first Coppa Vinci was held in 1925 on the same circuit, when Balestrero won with an O.M. The 1926 winner would receive the Coppa Vinci (challenge three years) with temporary ownership for
one year with an exact bronze reproduction of the trophy to be held in perpetuity. In addition the winner collected a cash prize of 30,000 Lire.
Nine of the drivers entered had raced the week before at the Targa Florio, including Emilio Materassi who appeared in the 1500 Maserati with which Alfieri Maserati had won the 1500 category. There were two
1100 cc cars; Rallo in a Salmson who had finished second in his category and Casano with his Amilcar. There was also Messeri with his old 2000 Bugatti. The Category over 2000 comprised five Targa Florio
entries; Balestrero in his 2200 OM, De Sterlich and Vittoria in 3000 Diattos, Candrilli in the large Steyr and Sillitti in the Alfa Romeo RL TF. Amongst the local drivers were Fasone from Messina in his
Diatto 3000 and Marano with a 1500 Fiat, who was the local hero, also from Messina. Musmeci with his Bugatti 2000 came from nearby Catania. A complete list of the 25 entries is shown at the beginning of
Some remarks about Balestrero's OM which was works-assisted though he entered it. He was the OM agent in Lucca, so racing cars were loaned to him under this arrangement. He entered in the category over 2000 cc,
thereby avoiding having to race against a fleet of 2-liter supercharged racing cars. This meant that his engine was either slightly re-bored (it was entered as 2001 cc at Le Mans in 1925) or had false papers.
Enthusiastic sportsmen came from all provinces of Sicily and Calabria to attend this racing event which was under the direction of Vincenzo Vinci, President of the Messina AC. The President of the Automobile
Club of Sicily, Cavaliere Vincenzo Florio, was also present.
The 15 cars started individually in order of their race numbers at intervals of one minute because of the dust on the dirt roads. However, the cars were not necessarily released at 1-minute intervals, since
starting times had been determined beforehand according to the race numbers. If cars did not appear at the start, (e.g. #2, #3, #4) then car #5 was held to its predetermined time of departure. The 1100 cc
category started first, followed by the 1500 cc cars, next the 2000 cc and finally the over 2000 cc category. Between each category there was an interval of two minutes. At 8:00 AM the starter, Michele
Crisafulli Mondio, Federal Secretary of the National Fascist Party, released the car of Cucinotta, followed by the Bugatti of Irrera. At 8:25 Piro in the Fiat was the last car to be started since Trombetta
did not appear.
|8:01||2||Carrozza||Salmson||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:02||3||Rallo||Salmson||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:03||4||Casano||Amilcar||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:09||9||Filippi||Bugatti||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:11||11||De Vitis||Bugatti||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:12||12||Riccioli||Fiat||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:14||14||Maggi||Bugatti||2000 cc||DNA - did not appear|
|8:16||16||Vigo||Bugatti||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:20||20||Balestrero||OM||over 2000 cc|
|8:21||21||De Sterlich||Diatto||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
|8:26||26||Trombetta||Fiat||--"--||DNA - did not appear|
The race had started with 15 drivers from the 25 entries. Fasone with his fast pace set a new lap record and completed the 52 km course in 41m05s at 75.843 km/h. He was followed after 1½ minutes by Vittoria
in a similar car ahead of Materassi, however he stopped at the pits. Irrera slowed down with a broken leaf spring. The field was in the following order after the first lap:
|1.||Fasone (Diatto)||41m05s||over||2000 cc|
|2.||Vittoria (Diatto)||42m37s||over||2000 cc|
|3.||Materassi (Maserati)||42m44s||1500 cc|
|4.||Marano (Fiat)||43m23s||1500 cc|
|5.||Candrilli (Steyr)||43m40s||over||2000 cc|
|6.||Forte (Bugatti)||44m12s||2000 cc|
|7.||Balestrero (OM)||45m13s||over||2000 cc|
|8.||Piro (Fiat)||46m14s||over||2000 cc|
|9.||Cutelli (Bugatti)||46m16s||1500 cc|
|10.||Messeri (Bugatti)||46m18s||2000 cc|
|11.||Musmeci (Bugatti)||2000 cc|
|12.||Sillitti (Alfa Romeo)||over||2000 cc|
|13.||Tricomi (1500 Fiat)||1500 cc|
|14.||Cucinotta (S.A.M.)||1100 cc|
|15.||Irrera (Bugatti)||1500 cc|
On the second lap the local hero Marano with the best time was sending the crowd into raptures. Forte, who had advanced from sixth place, was now second and Balestrero moved from seventh to third. Materassi
retired the Maserati with a blown head gasket. Fasone's Diatto dropped out with a damaged engine bearing. The Steyr of Candrilli stopped on top of a hill, losing a lot of time with an engine problem that
his mechanic was able to repair enabling him to continue. Candrilli encountered two flat tires that cost half an hour to replace. After all the other cars had passed the grandstand Irrera arrived slowly
with a broken leaf spring, stopped at the pits and retired. The field was in the following order after the second lap:
|1.||Marano (Fiat)||1h28m02s||1500 cc|
|2.||Forte (Bugatti)||1h30m02s||2000 cc|
|3.||Balestrero (OM)||1h30m36s||over||2000 cc|
|4.||Cutelli (Bugatti)||1h32m06s||1500 cc|
|5.||Piro (Fiat)||1h32m40s||over||2000 cc|
|6.||Messeri (Bugatti)||1h33m26s||2000 cc|
|7.||Musmeci (Bugatti)||1h34m32s||2000 cc|
|8.||Tricomi (Fiat)||1h43m01s||1500 cc|
|9.||Sillitti (Alfa Romeo)||1h46m25s||over||2000 cc|
|10.||Cucinotta (S.A.M.)||1h49m00s||1100 cc|
|11.||Vittoria (Diatto)||2h01m02s||over||2000 cc|
|12.||Candrilli (Steyr)||2h08m06s||over||2000 cc|
|13.||Fasone (Diatto)||2h18m12s||over||2000 cc|
|14.||Irrera (Bugatti) ||2h32m32s||1500 cc|
On the third lap Marano, the young driver from Messina, forced his pace while in the lead. But his 1500 Fiat was not up to the 2200 OM of Balestrero, who passed both Forte, and Marano and assumed the
lead ahead of Forte, Cutelli and Musmeci. Marano had dropped from the lead to fifth position, 15m22s behind the race leader. He headed towards the pits and his mechanics, after checking the extent of
the problem, advised him to withdraw to prevent further damage to the engine. But Marano did not want to know about it, filled up with fuel, topped up the oil and was determined to complete the race.
Silitti retired the Alfa Romeo after the second lap and Musmeci entered the pits to fix the bent front axle of his Bugatti. After Vittoria retired his Diatto with engine problems, the field was down to
ten cars in the following order after the third lap:
|1.||Balestrero (OM)||2h14m01s||over||2000 cc|
|2.||Forte (Bugatti)||2h16m03s||2000 cc|
|3.||Cutelli (Bugatti)||2h19m11s||1500 cc|
|4.||Musmeci (Bugatti)||2h21m30s||2000 cc|
|5.||Marano (Fiat)||2h29m23s||1500 cc|
|6.||Piro (Fiat)||2h38m16s||over||2000 cc|
|7.||Tricomi (Fiat)||1500 cc|
|8.||Messeri (Bugatti)||2000 cc|
|9.||Cucinotta (S.A.M.)||1100 cc|
|10.||Candrilli (Steyr)||over||2000 cc|
After four laps Balestrero was still first with a lead of 9m39s over Forte, who was chased by Cutelli, who was only eight seconds behind him. Musmeci maintained fourth position, 21-minutes ahead of Piro
who led Messeri, Cucinotta, Candrilli and Tricomi. After Marano's damaged engine bearing eventually broke and he retired, the field was down to nine cars with Balestrero in the lead after four laps:
|1.||Balestrero (OM)||over||2000 cc|
|2.||Forte (Bugatti)||2000 cc|
|3.||Cutelli (Bugatti)||1500 cc|
|4.||Musmeci (Bugatti)||2000 cc|
|5.||Piro (Fiat)||over||2000 cc|
|6.||Messeri (Bugatti)||2000 cc|
|7.||Cucinotta (S.A.M.)||1100 cc|
|8.||Candrilli (Steyr)||4900 cc|
|9.||Tricomi (Fiat)||1500 cc|
On the fifth lap Balestrero still held the lead followed by Cutelli and Forte. The latter arrived on the road to Spartà, twenty km before Messina and broke a connecting rod which ended his race.
Musmeci followed not far behind. Cucinotta with his tiny S.A.M. continued regularly and without incident.
At the end of the fifth lap Balestrero crossed the finish line after 3h41m31.2s at 70.012 km/h, 15 minutes ahead of Cutelli who won the 1500 class. Musmeci finished third and Cucinotta, the last to
be classified, was able to complete the fifth lap just within the 80 minutes maximum time to be qualified. 23 seconds more and he would not have been qualified! It was that close. Candrilli and
Tricomi exceeded the allowable time and did not classify. Piro and Messeri were forced to retire on the last lap due to mechanical failures.
Balestrero received 30,000 Lire in prize money, Cutelli as class winner 8,000, Musmeci as class winner 8,000 and Cucinotta 3000 Lire. The four amounts of prize money were quoted from Nuccio Rubino's book.
|1.||20||Renato Balestrero||R. Balestrero||OM||665 S||2.2||S-6||5||3h41m31.2s|
|2.||8||Giovanni Cutelli||G. Cutelli||Bugatti||T13 Brescia||1.5||S-4||5||3h56m15.2s||+ 14m44.0s|
|3.||19||Salvatore Musmeci||Cavaliere S. Musmeci||Bugatti||T35A||2.0||S-8||5||3h57m46s||+ 16m15s|
|4.||1||Letterio Piccolo Cucinotta||L. Cucinotta||S.A.M.||C25 GS Siluto||1.1||S-4||5||5h01m10s||+1h19m39s|
|DNQ||22||Saverio Candrilli||S. Candrilli||Steyr||VI||4.9||S-6||5||5h13m26s||+ 1h31m55s|
|DNQ||7||Antonino Tricomi||A. Tricomi||Fiat||501 SS||1.5||S-4||5||exceeded max. time|
|DNF||18||Luigi Forte||L. Forte||Bugatti||T35||2.0||S-8||4||connecting rod|
|DNF||15||Lorenzo Messeri||L. Messeri||Bugatti||T30||2.0||S-8||4||mechanical|
|DNF||25||Giuseppe Piro||G. Piro||Fiat||S57/14B||4.5||S-4||4||mechanical|
|DNF||6||Salvatore Marano||S. Marano||Fiat||501 SS Silvani||1.5||S-4||3||engine bearing|
|DNF||23||Giuseppe Vittoria||G. Vittoria||Diatto||3000||3.0||S-4||2||engine problems|
|DNF||24||Amedeo Sillitti||A. Sillitti||Alfa Romeo||RL TF||3.6||S-6||2||mechanical|
|DNF||5||Renato Irrera||R. Irrera||Bugatti||T13 Brescia||1.5||S-4||2||broken leaf spring|
|DNF||25||Salvatore Fasone||S. Fasone||Diatto||20 S 3000||3.0||S-4||2||engine bearing|
|DNF||10||Emilio Materassi||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||26||1.5||S-8||1||blown head gasket|
Fastest lap, over 2000 cc: Salvatore Fasone (Diatto) on lap 1 in 41m05s = 75.9 km/h (47.2 mph).|
Average speed over 2000 cc, R. Balestrero: 70.4 km/h (43.8 mph).
Average speed 2000 cc, S. Musmeci: in 3h57m46s at 65.6 km/h (40.8 mph).
Average speed 1500 cc, A. Cutelli: in 3h56m15.2s at 66.0 km/h (41.0 mph).
Average speed 1100 cc, L. Cucinotta: in 5h01m10s at 51.800 km/h (32.2 mph).
Weather: dry and warm.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
ACI rivista, Torino
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
Special thanks to:
Ms. Paola Masetta
Nuccio Rubino: La Coppa Vinci book