Mr. Michelangelo Teresi writes in translation:
"La Targa Florio: a race that already in 1972 was heading to its natural end. Designed in 1906 by Don Vincenzo Florio, on the dusty Sicilian streets, it had become anachronistic with modern cars, studied for fast circuits, smooth asphalt, with so much power that it endangered the passionate Sicilian crowd that had always come to the edges of the streets to see the biggest motor event of the year.
"1972 was the year of Ferrari, the 312P was a chassis made around the powerful 12-cylinder boxer engine designed by Mauro Forghieri. Not suitable for streets that were full of potholes, but a victory in Sicilian soil would have gone around the world and would have given an almost mathematical guarantee for conquering the last Mondiale Marche title in the history of Maranello.
"The 312P had already dominated all the previous six races. In the Ferrari team there was the best of the world drivers of the moment: Andretti, Ickx, Regazzoni, Peterson, but the expedition to the Targa was handled with a series of novelties.
"Ferrari brought only one car to Sicily and the team was coordinated by Cesare Fiorio while Arturo Merzario and Sandro Munari were chosen as drivers. Thus the best sporting director, the master of road circuits where the driver still matters a lot and the best rallysta around.
"So this was to be a Ferrari runway? Everyone is waiting for it, but nothing was taken for granted especially if in the starting list there was a poker of other red cars. They came from Milan, to be exact from Settimo Milanese, where the Autodelta factory of the engineer Carlo Chiti was based. Alfa Romeo 33TT3, 8-cylinder V-cylinder engine, short and maneuverable chassis and eight fierce drivers: Andrea De Adamich, Toine Hezemans, Rolf Stommelen, Nino Vaccarella, the Sicilian idol, Vic Elford, another great expert of the Targa and of Monte Carlo Rally winner, Gijs Van Lennep, winner of Le Mans, and finally two young and motivated drivers, the Tuscan Nanni Galli and the Austrian Helmut Marko.
"The morning of 21st May was challenge theatre day, a single Ferrari against four Alfa Romeo cars with Vic Elford rocketing with the 33TT3, but breaks the oil filter immediately on lap one and the first Alfa is out. Arturo Merzario immediately puts de Adamich's Alfa first lap pass in Cerda he appears first, followed by the flying president Nino Vaccarella.
The half a million spectators sitting along the 72 km of the route are visible, but on the third lap Stommelen climbs and stops immediately with the V8 broken, even for the second Alfa it is the end.
But behind the Ferrari is the third car of Autodelta.
"Nanni Galli quickly drove his Alfa number 5, saving the vehicle, but above all without ever risking and giving the wheel to Helmut Marko.
"For the 29-year-old Austrian and future discoverer of talents like Vettel and Ricciardo it’s the debut on the Madona circuit even if his resume includes the distance record and victory at Le Mans with the powerful 917.
Meanwhile Sandro Munari replaces Arturo Merzario on the 312P, but the ace of the rally is fast in prototype cars, but he didn’t experience the 312P and driving a car of over 400 hp on winding roads is not really the best for someone who has to win on his debut and like a Helmuth hawk Marko snubs his prey.
"The Austrian starts chasing at every corner his 33TT3 gains meters on the Ferrari and at the height of the Polizzi crossroad he puts the Italian rallyman in. Alfa is first, and remains for the 4th and 5th laps of the 11 scheduled. Arturo Merzario is ready, he can’t wait to take the wheel again.
"The two cars have to stop at the pits for refueling and pilot change. After 24 seconds the jockey starts again, while it takes 40 seconds to get Nanni Galli to start again, but Merzario has to make up for another minute and a half lost by Munari.
Jumping upside down on the 72 km of Madonias to hunt for Nanni Galli. He spins under 35 minutes looking for a desperate comeback, while Nanni Galli always drives very carefully, the advantage is substantial on the Ferrari, the important thing is not to make mistakes, the important is to arrive first under the checkered flag and everything seems to be turning in Alfa's favor. But at the 8th lap, at the end of his turn comes the surprise: in Collesano, the reserve spy turns on. The Tuscan thinks of a contact, but shortly after, going down towards Campofelice the spy turns red: there is no fuel, difficult to get to the pits, they are still too far away.
"The mistake was made right in the refueling, with the car tilted to one side and the tank wasn't completely filled. In Campofelice,
"Nanni Galli manages to make an emergency doodle, but in the meantime Merzario is a lightning bolt and goes to command mode.
"Last stint, little chance for Alfa with the situation upside down. Ferrari starts again with Munari, Marko starts again too, but with a minute and a half away from Ferrari and three laps to go. Munari only takes a tour, now he can travel with interesting times, then he passes the car to Merzario, which has to curb the Austrian unrest on a day of particular grace. Last lap, Comasco lead with a 42 second lead, just need to complete the lap, no crashes and no overtaking.
"The Austrian on the other hand has nothing to lose, in Caltavuturo the detachment is 32", in Bivio Polizzi at 28", and in Collesano only 20" that divide the two reds. At Campofelice the lead drops to 18” but Merzario manages to keep the lead on Alfa Romeo and passes victorious under the checkered flag finishing the race at an average of 122,537 km/h, the highest ever.
"To Helmut Marko, second, goes the lap record in 33'41", the moral victory and the memory of that fabulous missed comeback.
"And it’s really the Civenna driver who remembers that victory, the last of the red cars on Madonite streets:
“That year we raced with the 312P, the new three-liter prototype designed by Forghieri, great car, but only one car was registered for me and Sandro Munari at the Targa Florio. Cesare Fiorio was put at the head of the expedition, almost to give him a container after the victories in the Rallyes.
"Between Fiorio and Enzo Ferrari there was no good blood. Fiorio, was the son of lawyer Agnelli, but Enzo Ferrari always blocked the road to Maranello. “As long as I’m there, he won’t step a foot in here! "These are Ferrari's words regarding Lancia's sports director, but that time, just that, he had to give in to the pressure of the lawyer.
"Sandro Munari, champion of rallies was given the opportunity to race with the Ferrari, right at the Targa Florio where the track was road, in many parts similar to a special rally."
His co-driver Arturo Merzario continued:
"He arrived without having done many tests, and I was immediately clear: "I'm here to win, trouble for you if you break my car, go slow and don't do any nonsense!"
"Munari used to come to rallies with special tests where you ran only against time, at the Targa you raced in the middle of many other cars often slower. The length of the race was brought to over 800 km, with only one driver not allowed to drive more than a certain amount of time, which on the Sicilian course amounted to over 700 km.
"So I took off, went straight to the lead, and after four laps I left Munari the Ferrari for only one spin, then I took the car again and after four more laps, when I had accumulated a solid lead I left it again, so that he could do his second one and final turn, always of one lap, going slowly without risking any chances."
"Sandro Munari respected the agreements made, both times he drove carefully, slowly, without risking the car and the result.
We climbed the podium as winners, with the warm Sicilian audience going crazy for Ferrari's victory. "