On 9-10-11 October 2020, CREVENTIC hosted the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily at the Autodromo di Pergusa, the first official ‘Coppa Florio’ to be held since 1981.
On Saturday 10, 2020, the green flag flew for the first official Coppa Florio to be held since June 28, 1981. It proved an event to remember.
On the grid itself, for which more than 25 24H SERIES staples and newcomers had made the journey to Sicily, competitors and VIPS, masks suitably adorned, were entertained by traditional tarantella dancers. The day prior, and after 90 minutes of qualifying was in the bag (more on that in a second), competitors were treated to a wine tasting by event sponsor, Cusumano, during which never-before-seen images of the 1976 Coppa Florio from photographer Roberto Barbato were showcased. Many of the attendees were wearing bespoke coppolas produced specially for the event, and earlier in the day, each driver had been presented with miniature replicas of the original bronze plaquettes awarded to winners of the Coppa Florio between 1905 and 1929.
No expense had been spared. Even the green flag was waved by former Sebring, Le Mans and Targa Florio winner Nino Vaccarella!
Despite most of the competitors having never competed at the Autodromo di Pergusa before – this was the circuit’s first international event in close to a decade, and its first full-stop since major renovations to the paddock during the summer – qualifying proved the track was far more than ‘just another oval.’ Many believed for example that Avelon Formula, back for its first start with CREVENTIC since 2019, and GPX Racing, whose Porsche sported a special livery in homage to the brand’s accomplishments on the Targa Florio, would be the frontrunners to beat, given their respective pace during free practice. In the end, it was MP Motorsport that took its first 24H SERIES pole position at ‘Enna-Pergusa’, Jaap van Lagen’s final flying lap besting even the Wolf GB08 prototype.
Granted, a lightning start from the lightweight Wolf meant MP Motorsport was unable to hold this advantage as the race got underway, but van Lagen’s pace was still strong enough to keep the equally fast-starting Mathieu Jaminet at bay in the GPX Racing 911 GT3 R until the first round of pit stops. Sadly, a broken shock absorber early on Sunday morning meant the #19 Mercedes-AMG GT3 eventually slipped down the order to 5th. Impressively, in a fighting comeback drive, MP Motorsport still recorded seven of the 11 fastest laps on Sunday.
Similarly, a seemingly untouchable Avelon Motorsport was felled just 90 minutes in when the Wolf suffered gearbox failure. Already 130 laps down when Italian teammates Ivan Bellarosa and Guglielmo Belotti finally returned to the track the following morning, further transmission issues meant the early leader completed only 28 more laps before retiring altogether.
Those collective maladies thus left the way clear for GPX Racing, who took the lead after the second hour, and thereafter produced a commanding drive to secure the di Martino trophy (named for event sponsor Flli Di Martino SpA, and awarded to the ‘winner’ after the first six hours) and the UAE team’s first outright win in the 24H SERIES. In the process, Jaminet, Jordan Grogor and team owner Frederic Fatien became the first official winners of the Coppa Florio since Emilio de Villota and Guy Edwards secured the honours for Lola in June 1981. In an incredible demonstration of motorsport’s performance evolution, the GPX Porsche’s 1m 34.612s fastest lap of the race was almost two seconds quicker than de Villota and Edward’s Lola T600 had managed in qualifying 39 years earlier!
Runners-up CP Racing were also left celebrating a strong weekend, former Overall GT Drivers’ champions Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub and Joe Foster – together with compatriot and former Daytona 24 Hours class winner Shane Lewis – having secured the North American outfit its highest outright finish under its new pseudonym, and the trio’s first class win in the 24H SERIES (A6-Am this time) since 2018. Ironically, it was a run that very nearly ended in disaster on Sunday morning’s restart when the #85 Mercedes-AMG span heading into turn one, right in front of the #19 MP Mercedes. Somehow, the pirouetting Charles Espenlaub was not collected by the pursuing pack and was able to continue.
Behind 3rd-placed Car Collection Motorsport, back on the overall podium again after its 2nd-placed finish earlier in the year at Dubai, DINAMIC Motorsport entries finished 4th, 6th and 7th in an impressive if occasionally fraught ‘home event’ in Sicily. On lap two, and while battling for 8th place, the team’s Porsche 911-II Cup (#907) made contact with Herberth Motorsport’s Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91) into Variante Piscine, the impact dumping both off course and to the back of the field. The #907 would eventually end a fine recovery drive 7th overall and with the 991-class win, while the repaired Herberth entry, despite pulling itself back into the top five, eventually retired after eight hours with significant handling issues.
DINAMIC’s Huracán Super Trofeo (#793) meanwhile, a frequent visitor through the gravel trap at Chicane Zagaria – oftentimes, backwards – had been slowly closing the gap to 5th-placed MP Motorsport as the race entered its final five minutes, only for the Lamborghini’s rear spoiler to collapse. Fortunately the gap to the #907 in 7th was big enough to prevent the Raging Bull losing track position in sight of the flag.
DINAMIC’s nearest 991-class rivals – FULGENZI RACING (#923) and TEMPO S.R.L (#916) – collected the category’s final podium spots, but were unable to mount a more serious charge thanks to several punctures and a broken driveshaft respectively. Though still running, the second FULGENZI entry (#917) could do no better than 18th overall after a torrid day in Sicily: the Cup car brought out the Code 60 flags on three separate occasions after a brake-less trip into the barriers 80 minutes in, as well as two drive-less exits from both back chicanes.
Across in GT4, PROsport Racing (#401) secured its second class win of the season, extending its lead at the top of the Overall GT Teams’ standings in the process over nearest rival, Team Avia Sorg Rennsport (#451). Brutally, the M4 GT4 had been leading the class by more than a minute after three hours, but fell a lap behind following a trip into the gravel. Quite a long way back, and despite myriad punctures and electrical problems, 3rd-placed Las Moras by Equipe Verschuur (#409) could at least be satisfied with a finish for its McLaren 570S GT4.
Across in TCE, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) took its third win of the season with its Volkswagen Golf GTI, and in the process, put the Overall TCE Teams’ title out of reach for the second year in a row, and one round early to-boot. One day earlier though, it had been a very different story…
Though pipped to TCE pole position by a lofty 2.7 seconds by JR Motorsport (#703), Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) played the first Code 60 to perfection to leapfrog its way to the front as the clock ticked past two hours (admittedly a locked rear axle that sent the leading JR Motorsport BMW M3 into a spin on the start-finish straight was also a contributory factor). Heading into the final hour of day one, father and son Ivo and Luc Breukers had further extended their lead to just over one lap when the orange CUPRA ran wide on loose gravel at the Zagaria chicane, the resulting impact against the tyres barriers causing significant damage to the front end.
Unable to complete the final 30 minutes on Saturday, Red Camel also couldn’t stop AC Motorsport (#188) from collecting the runners-up spot in TCE the following evening, despite the Audi’s race-long handling issues.
Frustrations aside for some teams, and with some pre-race festivities having to be scrapped owing to Covid-related logistical impossibilities, few could argue that the inaugural COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily, one of the most ambitious challenges embarked upon by CREVENTIC since its first event at the Dubai Autodrome in 2006, had captured the hearts and imaginations of not only those involved, but those of fans around the world watching the live stream.
The buzz around the paddock spoke volumes, as indeed did the smile that occasionally crested the top of the mask of Chico Paladino Florio, grandson of original event founder Vincenzo. Few would argue that something special had been achieved on 10-11 July 2020 in Sicily.
After the success of the 2020 running – only the 20th official Coppa Florio to be held since 1905 – CREVENTIC is very pleased to welcome guests and competitors back to Sicily for the second edition of the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily on 1-2-3 October. Set to be held once again around the 4.983km Autodromo di Pergusa, provisional entry numbers for the 2021 edition have already surpassed 30 across five different categories.
Official on-track action will begin on Friday 1 October with a 90-minute Free Practice session, and will be followed later that afternoon by two 30-minute qualifying sessions for the TCE and GT divisions respectively. On Saturday 2 October, the first six hours of the COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily will be run between 11.00 hrs and 17.00 hrs local time, with the race resuming for the final six hours on Sunday 3 October at 11.00 hrs after CREVENTIC’s traditional overnight hiatus. The COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily will then run uninterrupted until 17.00 hrs on the Sunday.
Competitors interested in competing can register an entry for COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily HERE. Further details can be found through CREVENTIC directly via [email protected] and +31 485 471166.