"Viva Porsche" – Historic overall victory for Porsche 50 years ago at Targa FlorioA milestone in motor sports history for the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer
Stuttgart. On June 10, 1956, 50 years ago, the company now known as Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, celebrated one of its biggest and most important racing victories. Italian racecar driver Umberto Maglioli was the surprise overall winner in a Porsche 550 A Spyder at what was then the world's longest-standing and most difficult road race, the Targo Florio. The young company Porsche gained worldwide recognition with this victory, as it was the first time that a driver in a smaller racing class vehicle of up to two liters cylinder displacement managed to beat vehicles with a higher cylinder displacement. With an average speed of 90.9 m/h and a lead of nearly 15 minutes on the second place vehicle, Maglioli not only out-classed the competition but also assured the first overall victory for Porsche in the Brand World Championships.
This victory was made all the more surprising because of the fact that the Porsche 550 A Spyder only debuted eleven days before the Targa Florio at a 1,000-kilometer race on the Nürburgring. Spurred on by the victory in this class, Porsche's Head of Racing, Huschke von Hanstein, traveled to Sicily with driver Maglioli and two mechanics to test the open-top Spyder's competitiveness once again. In contrast to other road races of the time, routes were not closed during training, so the drivers always had to be prepared for traffic and obstacles. Furthermore, for the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer, it was the first time they took part in this legendary race as, at the time, the Targo Florio was seen as the territory of large Italian racing stables. Maglioli completed the 720-kilometer route without changing drivers in a time of 7:54.52 hours – and thanks to the reliability of his Porsche, only pulled in to the pit stop to refuel.
Yet even before this overall victory, the Targa Florio was closely associated with the name Porsche. First held under the patronage of the Italian Count Vicenzo Florio, with more than 6,000 curves and countless climbs, the 720-kilometer course in Sicilian Madonie was one of the greatest challenges in international motor sport for many decades. In 1922, the small "Sascha" model designed for Austro-Daimler by Ferdinand Porsche confidently won the 1100-ccm cylinder class. This was followed in 1924 by the overall victory of the Mercedes 2l Targa Florio race car developed at Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft under the technical supervision of Ferdinand Porsche.
Umberto Maglioli's victory in 1956 marked the beginning of a unique success story for the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer. After Umberto Maglioli's surprise victory in 1956, driving a Porsche 718 RSK Spyder, the duo of Edgar Barth and Wolfgang Seidel brought the second overall victory at Targa Florio home to Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. In 1960, Joakim Bonnier and Hans Herrmann won in a Porsche 718 RS 60 Spyder. In 1963, the Porsche 718 GTR, driven by Joakim Bonnier and Carlo Abate, emerged victorious. A new era in racing sport began for Porsche in 1964 with the 904 Carrera GTS designed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. Racecar drivers Antonio Pucci and Colin Davis left all the competitors' prototypes in the dust in a standard 904 model and, in April 1964, took home the fifth overall victory.
The introduction of the Porsche 911 in 1964 also heralded a new era in racecar engineering. With the six-cylinder engine based on the Porsche 911, the Porsche 906 Carrera 6 only proved to be unbeatable, and not just in the 2-liter sports car class. At the 50th Targo Florio in 1966, Herbert Müller and Willy Mairesse won in the racecar fitted with a space frame and plastic chassis. The Porsche team entered the Targo Florio in May 1967 with a fleet of six Porsche 910 prototypes. The race ended with a triple victory as Rolf Stommelen and Paul Hawkins crossed the finish line in their Porsche 910-8 ahead of two 910-6 model racecars. Porsche managed a hat trick in 1968 with the victory of Vic Elford and Umberto Maglioli in a 907-8. The coveted "Coppa Florio" trophy hereby finally landed permanently in the hands of Porsche AG and earned a place of honor in Ferry Porsche's office.
In 1969, Porsche responded to a new Brand World Championships regulation with the development of the 908/02 Spyder. Out of six Porsche 908/02s that entered the start, four finished in the first four places. Overall victory was taken by Gerhard Mitter and Udo Schütz, who set a new course record with a time of 6:07.45 hours. Porsche sent the light and agile 908/03 Spyder to the start of the 1970 Targa Florio and this race also ended with a Porsche double victory (Jo Siffert/Brian Redman, Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen), which was crowned by Kinnunen's record lap with an average speed of 128.57 km/h. In 1973, it was Gijs van Lennep and Herbert Müller, who drove into the history books in the historic long-distance race with a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR. By the final staging of the race as a World Championship in 1973, Porsche was the most successful automobile brand with a total of eleven overall Targa Florio victories.
Porsche overall victories at the Targa Florio
1956 - Umberto Maglioli - Porsche 550 A Spyder
1959 - Edgar Barth/Wolfgang Seidel - Porsche 718 RSK Spyder
1960 - Joakim Bonnier/Hans Herrmann - Porsche 718 RS 60 Spyder
1963 - Joakim Bonnier/Carlo Abate - Porsche 718 GTR
1964 - Colin Davis/Antonio Pucci - Porsche 904 Carrera GTS
1966 - Herbert Müller/Willy Mairesse - Porsche 906 Carrera 6
1967 - Paul Hawkins/Rolf Stommelen - Porsche 910-8
1968 - Vic Elford/Umberto Maglioli - Porsche 907-8
1969 - Gerhard Mitter/Udo Schütz - Porsche 908/02 Spyder
1970 - Jo Siffert/Brian Redman - Porsche 908/03 Spyder
1973 - Gijs van Lennep/Herbert Müller - Porsche 911 Carrera RSR