We’ve seen a number of innovative solutions to calendar challenges as the motorsport world grapples with the ongoing travails doled out by COVID-19.
The latest comes from CREVENTIC who, in the wake of losing their date at Imola due to on-going calendar fluctuations there, and with local issues over noise also making it impossible for Imola to host a round of the 24H SERIES in 2020, have decided instead to turn back the clock to revive an historic event at a circuit that has not seen front-line endurance racing action for almost two decades.
That circuit is the Autodromo di Pergusa, known to many as Enna-Pergusa in Sicily and the event is the long-defunct but not forgotten Coppa Florio, now set to be revived for the first time in almost 40 years.
The Sicilian road rally is one of the oldest endurance motor races in history.
It pre-dates the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Spa 24 Hours, the Mille Miglia and the Monte Carlo Rally.
The event was first held in 1900, albeit as the ‘Coppa Brescia’. In 1905, by then under the patronage of Vincenzo Florio, the event was renamed ‘Coppa Florio’ and ran as such for 12 editions until 1929.
Now, 91 years later and following significant renovations at the Autodromo di Pergusa, Florio’s grandson Chico Paladino Florio has now given CREVENTIC official license to revive the Coppa Florio name for both 2020 and beyond as part of the 24H Series.
The Coppa Florio will slot into the 2020 24H SERIES calendar on 9-10-11 October in place of the Hankook 12H IMOLA and will count towards this year’s 24H SERIES Europe championship.
CREVENTIC’s Sporting Coordinator Ole Dörlemann: “This is an incredible opportunity and speaks volumes to the faith Signore Chico Paladino Florio has placed in CREVENTIC to revive one of the oldest endurance races in motorsport history. We’re also very excited to welcome the Autodromo di Pergusa to the 24H SERIES calendar. It’s a venue that boasts vast amounts of character and heritage and features a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of motorsport icons among its previous winners.
“We’re very confident the new Coppa Florio can be one of the most anticipated 24H SERIES events in the years to come, and we’re really looking forward to seeing some fantastic on-track action in both the GT and TCE divisions this October in Sicily.”
First built in 1951, the Autodromo encircles the Lago di Pergusa from which it derives its name and features a 4.950km sequence of high-speed straights and fast sweeping corners. Unlike many Italian motorsport venues though, motor racing at Pergusa didn’t get into its stride until the early 1960s. Among the first significant events to be held was the Mediterranean Grand Prix, a non-championship Formula 1 event first run in 1962 under F1 regulations until 1967, after which Pergusa became a staple of the Formula 2 (and later Formula 3000) calendar until the Grand Prix’s final edition in 1998.
Notable winners of the Mediterranean GP include former F1 World Champions Sir Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt, and Keke Rosberg, former Indy 500 winners and IndyCar/CART champions Gil de Ferran and Juan Pablo Montoya, and Le Mans icons Hans-Joachim Stuck and Henri Pescarolo.
In later years, Enna Pergusa would also host two rounds of the FIA GT Championship in 2002 and 2003, and a single race as part of the short-lived International GTSprint Series in 2012.
Here’s an in-car lap of the circuit aboard Lee Cunningham’s Lamborghini Diablo GTR from the FIA GT supporting Lamborghini Super Trophy in 2002.
And the highlights of the FIA GT Championship race there in 2002
And in 2003 – this time with Italian commentary
CREVENTIC’s arrival in 2020 thus marks the first international motorsport event to be held at the Autodromo di Pergura in almost a decade.
The 24H Series will also be the first to make comprehensive use of the Pergusa’s newly renovated pit and paddock complex. Alongside a full re-surface of the track last year, the circuit’s pit boxes, all of which are in the process of being overhauled, will feature new electricity, WiFi and LAN connections.
The History of The Coppa Florio
After two exploratory editions in 1900 and 1901 – the second of which was won by Lancia founder, Vincenzo – the first official edition of the ‘Coppa Florio’ took place on 4 September 1905.
To commemorate the event, Vincenzo Florio, who also founded the Targa Florio in 1906, offered a handsome 50,000 Italian lira purse to the manufacturer that could take the most wins across the first seven editions.
Incredibly, the first seven races – dating from 1905 to 1924 – were each won by different manufacturers, and it was only after Peugeot took its second win at the eighth running of the Coppa Florio in 1925 that the prize money could finally be collected.
Later Enzo Ferrari entered every year one or more cars in the Targa Florio.
In Casa Florio many letters remain in which Enzo is trying to explain to Vincenzo that he will not come if he had to pay any entry fee. Vincenzo never gave in and the Ferrari cars always turned up (pictured left – Enzo Ferrari and Vincenzo Florio).
The Coppa Florio was briefly re-introduced as a round of the World Sports Car Championship in the late 1970s, making its final appearance on the calendar in 1981.
Notable victors of the original Coppa Florio include Giovanni Battista Raggio, who took the first official win in 1905; Felice Nazzaro, a two-time Targa Florio winner who became the first of only three men to take repeat wins on the Coppa Florio; 1913 Indianapolis 500 winner Jules Goux; and Albert Divo, a two-time Targa Florio winner for whom Bugatti named its 1,500hp limited edition hypercar in 2019.
The 2020 Coppa Florio
Set to be a 12-hour event for both GT and TCE division competitors, the first six hours of the 2020 Coppa Florio is set to be held on Saturday 10 October, while the final six hours will be run on Sunday 11 October following an overnight intervention. An official time schedule will be released in due course.
As well as reviving an event dating back more than 90 years, CREVENTIC also hopes to provide overall winners in both the GT and TCE category with exact replicas of the original ‘Florio Cup’, bequeathed to winners of the event in the early 1900s.
The trophies will even be made by the company that made the originals – they’ve been in continuous business since 1902!
The winner will receive the Coppa Florio from the grandson of Vincenzo Florio, Mr Chico Paladino Florio.
Mountain road parade set to open the event
The 9-10-11 October weekend will begin with a parade of GT and touring cars making the 15km drive from the Autodromo through the mountains to the neighbouring town of Enna. All cars will leave the circuit in one-minute intervals. Local Carabinieri meanwhile will ensure all intervening crossroads are re-directed, allowing drivers the opportunity to reach up to 75kph on the winding mountain roads without damaging and/or overheating their car’s powertrains. Each driver will be personally welcomed into Enna’s central piazza by the town’s mayor, Mr Maurizio Dipietro.
Winners of Coppa Florio
1905 1st Coppa Florio Giovanni Battista Ragio Itala 112HP Circuito di Brescia
1907 2nd Coppa Florio Ferdinando Minoia Isotta Fraschini Circuito di Brescia
1908 3rd Coppa Florio Felice Nazzaro Fiat Circuito di Bologna
1914 4th Coppa Florio Felice Nazzaro Nazzaro Long Madonie
1921 5th Coppa Florio Julex Goux Ballot 3L Circuito di Brescia
1922 6th Coppa Florio Andre Boillot Peugeot Circuito Madonie
1924 7th Coppa Florio Christian Werner Mercedes TF Circuito Madonie
1925 8th Coppa Florio Andre Boillot Peugeot Circuito Madonie
1926 9th Coppa Florio Bartolomeo “Meo” Costantini Bugatti Type 35T Circuito Madonie
1927 10th Coppa Florio Robert Laly Ariès Circ.de Saint-Brieuc(F)
1928 11th Coppa Florio Albert Divo Bugatti Type 35B Circuito Madonie
1929 12th Coppa Florio Albert Divo Bugatti Type 35C Circuito Madonie
1974 13th Coppa Florio John Fitzpatrick Porsche Carrera RSR Autodromo di Pergusa
1975 14th Coppa Florio Arturo Merzario – Jochen Mass Alfa Romeo 33TT12 Autodromo di Pergusa
1975 15th Coppa Florio Rolf van Stommelen – Jochen Mass Porsche 936 Autodromo di Pergusa
1976 16th Coppa Florio Rolf van Stommelen – Jochen Mass Porsche 936 Autodromo di Pergusa
1977 17th Coppa Florio Arturo Merzario Alfa R. T33/SC/12 Autodromo di Pergusa
1978 18th Coppa Florio “Gimax” – Giorgio Francia Osella PA6 BMW Autodromo di Pergusa
1979 19th Coppa Florio Lella Lombardi – Enrico Grimaldi Osella PA7-BMW Autodromo di Pergusa
1981 20th Coppa Florio de Villota / Guy Edwards Lola T600 Ford Autodromo di Pergusa
Other Selected Major Race Winners At Pergusa
1959 GP Pergusa Nino Vaccarella Maserati 200SI Autodromo di Pergusa
1962 F1 Mediterranean GP Lorenzo Bandini Ferrari 156 Autodromo di Pergusa
1963 F1 Mediterranean GP John Surtees Ferrari 156/63 Autodromo di Pergusa
1964 Coppa Cittì di Enna Hans Hermann Abarth-Simca 2000 GT Autodromo di Pergusa
1964 F1 Mediterranean GP Jo Siffert Brabham BT11 Autodromo di Pergusa
1965 F1 Mediterranean GP Jo Siffert Brabham BT11 Autodromo di Pergusa
1967 Coppa Cittì di Enna Nino Vaccarella Ford GT40 Autodromo di Pergusa
1968 Coppa Cittì di Enna Jo Siffert Porsche 910 Autodromo di Pergusa
1969 Coppa Cittì di Enna Nino Vaccarella Alfa R. T33/3 Coupé Autodromo di Pergusa
1970 Coppa Cittì di Enna Jo Bonnier Lola T210 Ford Autodromo di Pergusa
1972 Coppa Cittì di Enna Arturo Merzario Abarth Osella SE-021 Autodromo di Pergusa
1973 Coppa Cittì di Enna Vittorio Brambilla Abarth-Osella PA1 Autodromo di Pergusa
1974 Coppa Cittì di Enna Gérard Larrousse Alpine A441 Renault Autodromo di Pergusa
1975 Coppa Cittì di Enna Mario Casoni Porsche 908/4 Turbo Autodromo di Pergusa
1976 Enna EU. F3 GP Perg. Ricardo Patrese F3 Autodromo di Pergusa
1978 Enna EU. F3 GP Perg. Michael Bleekemolen F3 Autodromo di Pergusa
1979 ETCC 500km Pergusa R.v Hove/P.Dieudonné/J. Xhenceval BMW 3.0 CSL Autodromo di Pergusa
1979 Enna EU. F3 GP Perg. Piercarlo Ghinzani F3 Autodromo di Pergusa
1980 ETCC 500km Pergusa H.Neger/U.Grano/H.Werginz BMW 635 CSi Autodromo di Pergusa
1981 ETCC 500km Pergusa Umberto Grano/Helmut Kelleners BMW 635 CSi Autodromo di Pergusa
1982 ETCC 500km Pergusa Umberto Grano/Helmut Kelleners BMW 528i Autodromo di Pergusa
1982 Enna EU. F3 GP Perg. Oscar Larrauri F3 Autodromo di Pergusa
1983 ETCC 500km Pergusa Tom Walkinshaw/Chuck Nicholson Jaguar XJS Autodromo di Pergusa
1984 ETCC 500km Pergusa Martin Brundle / Enzo Calderari Jaguar XJS HE Autodromo di Pergusa
1984 Enna EU. F3 GP Perg. Ivan Capelli F3 Autodromo di Pergusa
1999 2h30m Pergusa Emanuele Moncini/Christ. Pescatori Ferrari 333 SP Autodromo di Pergusa
1999 Enna Italian F3000 Giorgio Vinella F3000 Autodromo di Pergusa
2000 Enna Italian F3000 Darren Manning F3000 Autodromo di Pergusa
2001 Enna Euro F3000 Felipe Massa F3000 Autodromo di Pergusa
2002 FIA GT Champ. Perg. J. Campbell-Walter/Nicol. Springer Lister Storm Autodromo di Pergusa
2002 Enna Euro F3000 Alessandro Picocolo F3000 Autodromo di Pergusa
2002 Enna ETCC Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Autodromo di Pergusa
2003 FIA GT Champ. Perg. Thomas Biagi / Matteo Bobbi Ferrari 550 Maranello Autodromo di Pergusa
2003 Enna Euro F3000 Augusto Farfus F3000 Autodromo di Pergusa
2003 Enna ETCC Gabriele Tarquini Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Autodromo di Pergusa
2003 Enna ETCC Roberto Colciago Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Autodromo di Pergusa
*Images courtesy of autodromopergusa.gov.it, Giuseppe Messina Photography, and Daimler AG.