Historical: The 1968 Targa Florio

By Christopher DeHarde, Contributing Writer

When you’re 18 minutes behind the race leader after the first lap of a ten lap race, your race is pretty much over.

Unless your name is Vic Elford and you’re running in a Porsche 907 at the 1968 Targa Florio.

The Targa Florio was one of the most challenging races on the FIA World Sportscar Championship before it was dropped from the schedule as the cars outgrew the circuit. The circuit, made up entirely of public roads throughout Sicily, was a 45 mile lap that had over 700 corners per lap with a nearly five mile straightaway at the end of the lap.

Elford set a new lap record in qualifying by an astounding 22 seconds as he and co-driver Umberto Maglioli started on pole, but the race quickly unraveled on the first lap.

The center locking wheel nut came undone on the right rear tire, and it was found out that a batch of the wheel nuts had been poorly machined. Either way, Elford decided that if he wasn’t going to win the race, he’d at least have the lap record.

And did he ever have the lap record. Elford pushed his 907 harder than he did in qualifying, shaving an additional 45 seconds off of his lap record in qualifying before turning the car over to Maglioli after four laps behind the wheel.

Maglioli inherited the car after Elford brought them up to seventh place and got the car to fourth place before handing the reigns over to Elford with three laps remaining.

Elford then passed the leading Alfa Romeo driven by Giovanni Galli on the penultimate lap and ended up winning by three minutes over the Alfa Romeo.

Not bad for a guy who had an 18 minute deficit at the start of the race.

1968 Targa Florio – Top 10 Results
1. Elford/Maglioli – 6:28:47.900
2. Giunti/Galli
3. Bianchi/Casoni
4. Herrmann/Neerpasch
5. Pilette/Slotemaker
6. Baghetti/Biscaldi
7. von Wendt/Kauhsen
8. Haldi/Greub/Berney
9. Lins/Steinemann
10. Facetti/Nicodemi

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.

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