Eysermann (Bugatti)Astarita (Bugatti)Siciliani (Alfa Romeo)


Tagiura Circuit (I), 29 April 1926 (Thursday).
15 laps x 26.200 km (16.28 mi) = 393.0 km (244.2 mi)


Category A - up to 1500 cc
..Antonio Jacono-CarusoA. Jacono-CarusoBugatti1.5S-4
10Luigi PlatèL. PlatèChiribiriMonza1.5S-4
..Attilio BelgirA. BelgirBugatti1.5S-4
..SerlottiSerlottiBugatti1.5S-4Serlotti replaced Mathis
..Giulio BindaG. BindaChiribiri1.5S-4
Category B - over 1500 cc
1François EysermannF. EysermannBugattiT35A2.0S-8
2Abramino "Nino" CalòA. CalòBugattiT302.0S-8
3Alberto TriveroA. TriveroFiat3/A4.4S-4
4Vittorio AstaritaV. AstaritaBugattiT352.0S-8
5Benedetto "Bettino" SicilianiB. SicilianiAlfa RomeoRLS3.0S-6

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 Race:
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.



1.1François EysermannF. EysermannBugattiT35A2.0S-8153h31m25s
2.4Vittorio "Nino" AstaritaV. AstaritaBugattiT352.0S-8153h38m36s+ 7m11s
3.5Benedetto "Bettino" SicilianiB. SicilianiAlfa RomeoRLS3.0S-6153h41m48s+ 10m23s
4. 10Luigi PlatèL. PlatèChiribiriMonza 1.5S-4154h21m47s+ 50m22s
5.Giulio BindaG. BindaChiribiri1.5S-4154h34m14s+ 1h02m49s
6.SerlottiSerlottiBugatti1.5S-4155h08m52s+ 1h37m27s
DNF2Nino Abramino CalòN. A. CalòBugattiT302.0S-89
DNFAttilio BelgirA. BelgirBugatti1.5S-47  
DNF3Alberto TriveroA. TriveroFiat3/A4.4S-44
DNFAntonio Jacono-CarusoA. Jacono-CarusoBugatti1.5S-44  
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.
In retrospect:
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:
Alessandro Silva
Paola Masetta
Valerio Moretti: Grand Prix Tripoli book

Balestrero (OM)Cutelli (Bugatti)Musmeci (Bugatti)


Circuito dei Monti Peloritani - Messina (I), 2 May 1926.
5 laps x 52 km (32.3 mi) = 260 km (161.6 mi)

Category up to 1100 cc
1Letterio Piccolo CucinottaL. CucinottaS.A.M.C25 GS Siluto1.1S-4
2Giovanni CarrozzaG. CarrozzaSalmsonAL3 GS1.1S-4DNA - did not appear
3Ezio RalloE. RalloSalmsonAL3 GS1.1S-4DNA - did not appear
4Salvatore CasanoS. CasanoAmilcarCC GS1.1S-4DNA - did not appear
Category up to 1500 cc
5Renato IrreraR. IrreraBugattiT13 Brescia1.5S-4
6Salvatore MaranoS. MaranoFiat501 SS Silvani1.5S-4
7Antonino TricomiA. TricomiFiat501 SS1.5S-4
8Giovanni CutelliG. CutelliBugattiT13 Brescia1.5S-4
9Bartolo FilippiB. FilippiBugattiT13 Brescia1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
10Emilio MaterassiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati261.5S-8
11Silvio De VitisS. De VitisBugattiT221.5S-4DNA - did not appear
12Eugenio RiccioliE. RiccioliFiat501 SS1.5S-4DNA - did not appear
Category up to 2000 cc
14Aymo MaggiCount A. MaggiBugattiT352.0S-8DNA - did not appear
15Lorenzo MesseriL. MesseriBugattiT302.0S-8
16Gioacchino VigoG. VigoBianchi20S2.3S-4DNA - did not appear
18Luigi ForteL. ForteBugattiT352.0S-8
19Salvatore MusmeciCavaliere S. MusmeciBugattiT35A2.0S-8
Category over 2000 cc
20Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroOM665 S2.2S-6
21Diego De SterlichMarquis D. De SterlichDiatto30003.0S-4DNA - did not appear
22Saverio CandrilliS. CandrilliSteyrVI4.9S-6
23Giuseppe VittoriaG. VittoriaDiatto30003.0S-4
24Amedeo SillittiA. SillittiAlfa RomeoRL TF3.6S-6
25Salvatore FasoneS. FasoneDiatto20 S 30003.0S-4
25Giuseppe PiroG. PiroFiatS57/14B4.5S-4
26Costantino TrombettaC. TrombettaFiatS57/14B4.5S-4DNA - did not appear

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 this report.
      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.
The Race:
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.
8:001CucinottaS.A.M.1100 cc
8:012CarrozzaSalmson--"--DNA - did not appear
8:023RalloSalmson--"--DNA - did not appear
8:034CasanoAmilcar--"--DNA - did not appear
8:055IrreraBugatti1500 cc
8:099FilippiBugatti--"--DNA - did not appear
8:1111De VitisBugatti--"--DNA - did not appear
8:1212RiccioliFiat--"--DNA - did not appear
8:1414MaggiBugatti2000 ccDNA - did not appear
8:1616VigoBugatti--"--DNA - did not appear
8:2020BalestreroOMover 2000 cc
8:2121De SterlichDiatto--"--DNA - did not appear
8:2424SilittiAlfa Romeo--"--
8:2626TrombettaFiat--"--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)41m05sover2000 cc
2.Vittoria (Diatto)42m37sover2000 cc
3.Materassi (Maserati)42m44s1500 cc
4.Marano (Fiat)43m23s1500 cc
5.Candrilli (Steyr)43m40sover2000 cc
6.Forte (Bugatti)44m12s2000 cc
7.Balestrero (OM)45m13sover2000 cc
8.Piro (Fiat)46m14sover2000 cc
9.Cutelli (Bugatti)46m16s1500 cc
10.Messeri (Bugatti)46m18s2000 cc
11.Musmeci (Bugatti)2000 cc
12.Sillitti (Alfa Romeo)over2000 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)1h28m02s1500 cc
2.Forte (Bugatti)1h30m02s2000 cc
3.Balestrero (OM)1h30m36sover2000 cc
4.Cutelli (Bugatti)1h32m06s1500 cc
5.Piro (Fiat)1h32m40sover2000 cc
6.Messeri (Bugatti)1h33m26s2000 cc
7.Musmeci (Bugatti)1h34m32s2000 cc
8.Tricomi (Fiat)1h43m01s1500 cc
9.Sillitti (Alfa Romeo)1h46m25sover2000 cc
10.Cucinotta (S.A.M.)1h49m00s1100 cc
11.Vittoria (Diatto)2h01m02sover2000 cc
12.Candrilli (Steyr)2h08m06sover2000 cc
13.Fasone (Diatto)2h18m12sover2000 cc
14.Irrera (Bugatti) 2h32m32s1500 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)2h14m01sover2000 cc
2.Forte (Bugatti)2h16m03s2000 cc
3.Cutelli (Bugatti)2h19m11s1500 cc
4.Musmeci (Bugatti)2h21m30s2000 cc
5.Marano (Fiat)2h29m23s1500 cc
6.Piro (Fiat)2h38m16sover2000 cc
7.Tricomi (Fiat)1500 cc
8.Messeri (Bugatti)2000 cc
9.Cucinotta (S.A.M.)1100 cc
10.Candrilli (Steyr)over2000 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)over2000 cc
2.Forte (Bugatti)2000 cc
3.Cutelli (Bugatti)1500 cc
4.Musmeci (Bugatti)2000 cc
5.Piro (Fiat)over2000 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.



1.20Renato BalestreroR. BalestreroOM665 S2.2S-653h41m31.2s
2.8Giovanni CutelliG. CutelliBugattiT13 Brescia1.5S-453h56m15.2s+ 14m44.0s
3.19Salvatore MusmeciCavaliere S. MusmeciBugattiT35A2.0S-853h57m46s+ 16m15s
4.1Letterio Piccolo CucinottaL. CucinottaS.A.M.C25 GS Siluto1.1S-455h01m10s+1h19m39s
DNQ22Saverio CandrilliS. CandrilliSteyrVI4.9S-655h13m26s+ 1h31m55s
DNQ7Antonino TricomiA. TricomiFiat501 SS1.5S-45exceeded max. time
DNF18Luigi ForteL. ForteBugattiT352.0S-84connecting rod
DNF15Lorenzo MesseriL. MesseriBugattiT302.0S-84mechanical
DNF25Giuseppe PiroG. PiroFiatS57/14B4.5S-44mechanical
DNF6Salvatore MaranoS. MaranoFiat501 SS Silvani1.5S-43engine bearing
DNF23Giuseppe VittoriaG. VittoriaDiatto30003.0S-42engine problems
DNF24Amedeo SillittiA. SillittiAlfa RomeoRL TF3.6S-62mechanical
DNF5Renato IrreraR. IrreraBugattiT13 Brescia1.5S-42broken leaf spring
DNF25Salvatore FasoneS. FasoneDiatto20 S 30003.0S-42engine bearing
DNF10Emilio MaterassiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati261.5S-81blown 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:
Alessandro Silva
Ms. Paola Masetta
Nuccio Rubino: La Coppa Vinci book


© 2018 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 04.07.2021