31.3. 2010

AINTREE TROPHY RACE

STUART STEALS IT

Here we go with the final British F.2 race of a long season. Truth is that this race never really happened - it was actually part of the F.1 Aintree 200 race, but I decided to run a separate F.2 event over 50 laps.

The entry for the race is entirely made up of British cars and almost entirely British drivers. There are 18 cars on the list with 13 of them being Coopers, 4 Lotuses and the other is the peculiar Fry Climax. The Cooper factory have not entered their works cars, although Bruce McLaren will be driving his semi-works entry; Rob Walker has entered his two Coopers, with Moss giving this one a miss, Tony Brooks joins Trintignant in the team for his first F.2 race of the season. The other non-British driver will be Harry Schell in a blue Alan Brown Cooper, while there are also Surbiton machines for Lewis, Wicken, Parnell, Russell, Naylor, Marsh and Tyrrell, with Burgess in the Atkins car and Lewis-Evans in the B.R.P pale green car.

Team Lotus have brought two of their newer type 16s for Allison and Graham Hill while Bueb and Denis Taylor have their private high-tailed cars ready. As usual, Mike Parkes will pilot the Fry.

The second practice session proved to be much quicker than the first, with the two Rob Walker cars setting front row times, split by McLaren. First day poleman Graham Hill went quicker than he had earlier but dropped to 5th behind Marsh's Cooper. The biggest improvement from first practice came from Ivor Bueb, who got his older-type Lotus running much better. Virtually everyone improved their times although Jack Lewis and Jim Russell were not able to, with Lewis being particularly disappointed not to be up there with his season-long sparring partner Tony Marsh. Then there is poor Brian Naylor who just cannot get his Cooper to accelerate as it should and he is tailed off at the back.

RACE REPORT

A race that appeared as if it would be dominated by Trintignant and Brooks in the two Rob Walker Coopers was turned on its head when both the dark blue cars were out of the race by lap 6. Maurice's car simply cut out on lap 2 and Tony surprisingly spun off at Anchor Crossing on lap 7. So initially we were left with a fast-starting Graham Hill in his Lotus leading a pack of Coopers with Hill's team-mate Allison struggling to keep up with the rear-engined cars. Both Lotus 16s suffered from snap oversteer and were giving the drivers a hard time, especially in the very long Beechers Bend at the top end of the circuit.

Bruce McLaren took the lead on lap 10 and proceeded to draw steadily away, while Hill gradually slipped back into the clutches of Stuart Lewis-Evans who was having an excellent race in the pale green B.R.P Cooper. It took Lewis-Evans until lap 35 to pass Hill and although he closed a little on McLaren, it appeared that Bruce had the race sewn up. Not so! With 10 laps to go the lead was 19 seconds but McLaren's car then began to falter. Exactly why is not clear but Lewis-Evans took chunks out of the young New Zealander's lead and setting his own fastest lap on lap 48 he passed McLaren to give Ken Gregory's team its first win of the season.

Hill trailed in third after a steady but ultimately disappointing race - a conclusion also reached by his team-mate Allison who finished 5th behind the steady Tommy Atkins Cooper of Ian Burgess. Tony Marsh rounded out the top six following a steady but unspectacular performance. George Wicken and Ken Tyrrell had a splendid battle right through the race and the maroon car came out on top, beating Tyrrell by a decent distance in the end. Dennis Taylor and Brian Naylor were the only other runners to make the finish.

HERE IS THE FULL RESULT - 50 laps:

   1.   22 S. LEWIS-EVANS COOPER CLIMAX T.45   1. 46. 58'45
   2.   21 B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.45   1. 47. 02'83
   3.   16 G. HILL LOTUS CLIMAX 16   1. 47. 10'03
   4.   26 I. BURGESS COOPER CLIMAX T.45   1. 47. 55'14
   5.   17 C. ALLISON LOTUS CLIMAX 16   1. 58. 02'77
   6.   31 T. MARSH COOPER CLIMAX T.45   1. 48. 50'69
   7.   23 G. WICKEN COOPER CLIMAX T.45       49 laps
   8.   27 K. TYRRELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45       49 laps
   9.   18 D. TAYLOR LOTUS CLIMAX 12       48 laps
 10.   24 B. NAYLOR COOPER CLIMAX T.45       47 laps
Retired:
    28 I. BUEB LOTUS CLIMAX 12       41 laps
      2 H. SCHELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45       28 laps
    32 J. LEWIS COOPER CLIMAX T.45       26 laps
    30 T. PARNELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45       22 laps
    25 J. RUSSELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45       10 laps
    29 M. PARKES FRY CLIMAX         8 laps
    20 T. BROOKS COOPER CLIMAX T.45         6 laps
    19 M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.45         2 laps
            Fastest lap: G. HILL, LOTUS CLIMAX 16 on lap 30, 2.03'13

RACE NOTES:

  • Exactly why McLaren's Cooper slowed so dramatically near the end has yet to be established.
  • The Walker equipe were devastated to be packing up so early - most unexpected. Maybe Stirling should have driven here after all.
  • It was a splendid drive by Lewis-Evans although that he actually won was rather surprising.
  • Harry Schell's Cooper never ran well and he slipped back to almost last before giving up.
  • The handling of the works Lotuses requires attention before Rouen, where Innes Ireland will replace Cliff Allison.
  • And speaking of Lotuses, the two Twelves are beginning to look very tired and now struggle to keep up with the midfield runners.
  • Brian Naylor went away from Aintree muttering "I gotta get some new tyres...."
  • The penultimate race of the F.2 season will be at Rouen where a very good entry is expected.

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