A Leap at Cerda

Ferrari, Targa Florio, Olivier Gendebien

In Cerda on the Targa Florio circuit. all public roads of course, there were some undulations in the street which would launch the cars into the air as they accelerated on a long straight stretch out of the town. Here is Belgian long distance specialist Olivier Gendebien going for a ride in the Ferrari 246SP which he shared with German count Wolfgang von Trips.

The 1961 Targa had a superb entry. Ferrari had a pair of their new rear-engined 246SPs for drivers Gendebien, Richie Ginther, Phil Hill and von Trips and a 250TRi for Ricardo Rodriguez and Willy Mairesse. Porsche replied with five cars including three of their RS61s, their driver lineup led by Stirling Moss and reinforced by Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier and Dan Gurney, plus a pair of Porsche-Abarth GT cars. Maserati sent a pair of the new rear-engined Tipo 63 spiders for Targa specialist Nino Vaccarella backed up by Maurice Trintignant, Umberto Maglioli and Giorgio Scarlatti. It would be a real contest.

Just before the start Ferrari engaged in a driver switch, replacing Hill in the Gendebien car with von Trips and putting the American with his old friend Ginther. Hill was none too happy with this, probably because he knew that Gendebien was both fast and car friendly. Hill charged off at the start right behind von Trips, but went off attempting to overtake and bent his car as the result. Much of the race turned out to be a back and forth affair between the Porsche 718RS61 driven by Moss and Graham Hill versus the Ferrari of Gendebien and von Trips. Moss had a reasonable lead going into the 10th and last lap, but his final drive gave up just 7 km before the finish, leaving von Trips to cross the line first to take the win for Ferrari. Two of the other Porsche 718s came in second and third with the two Maseratis, which lasted the distance somewhat surprisingly, in the next two places.

Photo by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com


  1. Jim Sitz · · Reply

    Cruel luck that Moss lost on final lap, having large lead of 6 minutes.!
    But then von Trips lost the previous year in the same fashion,

    I had admired Stirling winning in 1955 with Mercedes and recently
    had the opportunity to talk with him about it over a grilled cheese
    sandwich,,That was some drive !

    Jim sitz


  2. Pilote Ancien · · Reply

    Doubt that Phil Hill had a problem with Ginther, who he knew well, as much as he did with being “demoted” for crashing in practice. And if Ferrari was REALLY trying to send him a message, he’d have been put in the 250 TRi, I believe


    1. Actually, Phil Hill’s practice crash at the Targa was in 1962, not 1961. Team Manager Eugenio Dragoni whom Phil never liked did demote him as a result even though the crash was not Phil’s fault – the throttle jammed open. That car was a V8-engined 268SP.


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