CineCars Diva and celebrated rally laureate Guy Moerenhout went to the Targa Florio 2017 to represent FCA Belgium. And not just to watch it either.
Since 1906, the Targa Florio has conquered the island of Sicily in many forms. From endurance race to regularity rally for classic motors, the Targa Florio is and will remain a legendary trial for man and machine. For the 101st edition the weekend from the 20th until the 23th of April sported no less than four simultaneous events. The Targa Florio Rally, part of the Italian championship, the Targa Florio Historic Rally, the equivalent for classic rally cars, the Targa Florio Classic regularity race and a tribute to Ferrari celebrating its 70th birthday. There is nothing Vincenzo Florio, founder of the very first Targa Florio in 1906, should be ashamed about. With Alfa Romeo and Abarth, both part of Fiat-Chrysler-Automobiles, FCA in short, as main sponsors of the event, it’s no wonder FCA Belgium resided to the team of Guy Moerenhout Racing to defend its colours. With a Fiat Abarth 750 GT Record Monza Zagato and a 124 Rally from Moerenhout’s museum collection a golden choice.
The enthousiasm the Sicilian audience presented the 124 Rally, but especially the sympathetic bright yellow 750 GT Record Monza Zagato, with was overwhelming. Wherever the cars go there are thumbs up, eager questions and clicking camera’s. And that all before the rally even started. Following the long and tiresome transit from the Piazza Verdi in Palermo to Taormina in the south of the island on Thursday, Friday morning brings the start of the real competition. By meandering mountain roads and through picturesque villages the route searches its way in the direction of the Piccolo Madonie Circuit, where the Targa Florio was raced form 1951 until 1977, and will be again on Saturday. After a day of typical Italian stages Eric Vlasloir and Eric Van der Veken in the Fiat Abarth 124 Rally reach a well earned 31st place, closely followed at the 33th spot by the small Record Monza of Guy Moerenhout and Eric Van Bourgonie.
Day three brings a splendid route through the Madonie mountains. The challenging parcours through the beautiful Sicilian landscape raises everyones heartbeat. The rich heritage of the Targa Florio on these legendary roads being emphasized a little extra in Floriopolis, the original start/finish location of the race. Although eroded by time, this place takes one back fourty years in time effortlessly. However, the circus moves on, more trials and challenges take the teams to the coastal route and back to Palermo, where a gala dinner in the 16th century ‘Villa Tasca’ means a very nice end to a magnificent day. The last day takes the caravan tot the far west of Sicily. Like the other stages, the museum pieces from Lier finish this short stage without the slightest of problems. The cars simply perform like they’re expected to. Their little trip obviously suits their needs. Both teams being welcomed by Carlo Abarth’s widow is the cherry on the cake after winning a well earned 36th place overall and a fifth in their class for the 750 GT and a heavily competed 28th position overall and second in class for the 124 Rally. FCA has every right to be proud of their heritage.
Marc GF Zaan