PORSCHE MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF HISTORIC TARGA FLORIO VICTORY
--First and last Porsche overall winners have direct bloodlines to the latest Porsche race and production cars of today--
Stuttgart. -- The most successful of all sports car manufacturers in the history of endurance sports car racing, the company now known as Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, is celebrating one of its biggest and most important racing victories in its storied motorsports history - June 10, 1956, at the Targa Florio.
Despite the fact Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 16 times overall, and the 24 Hours at Daytona 20 times overall, no victory was bigger in company history than that day in 1956 when a Porsche 550 A Spyder, grandfather of the today's Porsche RS Spyder Le Mans Prototype 2 racer and father of the current Porsche Boxster street car, scored an overall win - Porsche's first in a world championship event . And Porsche's record 11th and last victory at the Targa Florio in 1973 - was tallied by a Porsche Carrera RSR, the predecessor of the recently announced 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RS street car.
50 years ago this week, Italian racecar driver Umberto Maglioli was the unexpected overall winner of what was then the world's longest-standing and most difficult road race, the Targa Florio. The upstart Porsche organization gained worldwide recognition with this victory since it was the first time that a driver in the under-two-liter class managed to beat vehicles with larger cylinder displacement. With an average speed of 90.9 mph 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 Manufacturers World Championship.
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 Nurburgring. Spurred on by the victory in this class, Porsche's racing director, 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 practice, so the drivers always had to be prepared for local traffic and obstacles.
Furthermore, for the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer, it was the first time they took part in this legendary race because, at the time, the Targa Florio - from which the name Targa originated for many Porsche model designations - was seen as the home turf of larger- engined sports cars from Italy. 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 sponsored by the Italian Count Vicenzo Florio, the Sicilian Madonie, with its 6,000 curves and countless hills, 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 astonishing 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 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 driving 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 Muller 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. As a result, the coveted Coppa Florio trophy finally landed 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, four finished in the first four places. The overall victory was taken by Gerhard Mitter and Udo Schutz, 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 Muller, who drove into the history books in the historic long-distance race with a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, the grandfather of today's Porsche 911 GT3 RS production car. 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 <pre> 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 Muller/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 Schutz Porsche 908/02 Spyder 1970 Jo Siffert/Brian Redman Porsche 908/03 Spyder 1973 Gijs van Lennep/Herbert Muller Porsche 911 Carrera RSR