14.6.12

GRAND PRIX des REMPARTS  -  Angouleme

SOMMER IS HERE AGAIN

A close, tense race which saw Raymond Sommer hold off Louis Chiron for 80 laps to take his fourth victory of the season. Over the last 50 laps Chiron was faster but by such a small amount that the Talbot driver was able to stay just out of reach.

ENTRY

The Grand Prix des Remparts was run only once and that was well before 1950, so my entry reflects the fact that this is essentially a national French race, with just one or two additions from outside the host country.

The vast majority of the fifteen cars that assembled by the cathedral in this pretty central France town were, naturally, French built. Only the Maseratis of Louis Chiron and B. Bira were constructed outisde la Belle France. The pre-WW2 cars from Delahaye (Pozzi) and Delage (Louveau and Achard - taking the place of Trintignant) were joined by the three tiny Gordinis with their regular pilotes Manzon, Trintignant and Simon.

The remaining seven cars were all Talbot Lagos. The two Belgian cars of Johnny Claes and Jacques Swaters headed the entry list with the five regular drivers whose names appear at virtually all the F.1 races in Europe. It was expected that the usual front runners, Rosier and Sommer would be the quicker of the quintet, with Etancelin and Giraud-Cabantous appearing in the midfield while Levegh would take up his usual position ahead of the Gordinis and the pre-war cars.

PRACTICE

The big surprise of practice was the pace of Yves Giraud-Cabantous who set the third fastest time grabbing a front row grid position on the outside of Louis Chiron and pole position man Raymond Sommer. The Talbot driver was 0.8 seconds ahead of Chiron but the very short nature of the circuit meant that there was only 6 seconds between first and last. Surprisingly, Louis Rosier was not on the front row and shared row two with Johnny Claes yellow Talbot. Etancelin was sixth fastest with Bira in eight. Between them was an unbelieveable story; Henri Louveau produced a lap that had everyone scratching their heads because none of his other laps was remotely near to his seventh fastest time. There was some question of a timing glitch. The White Mouse team were in despair with Bira's light blue Maserati. The car was fine around 95% of the lap but the car simply would not turn through the left hand hairpin two corners from the end of the with their Gordinislap. Various things were suspected but no matter what they did, nothing seemed to make any difference and the Prince did not view the race with any optimism.

On row four were the two remaining Talbots, Levegh ahead of Swaters with Simon and Trintignant sandwiching the huge Delahaye on row 5. At the back Achard was ahead of the third Gordini - Manzon suffering very poor handling with his car throughout practice.

THE RACE

Raymond Sommer made a superb start and led the field for the opening laps, setting the race's fastest lap as early as lap 3 but towards the end of lap 9 the right front wheel of the Talbot rolled gently away and the #55 car slewed to a halt. It was so disappointing, especially when added to the fact that Reg Parnell who was really the only serious threat left to Rosier, had himself to stop to have a loose wheel tightened on lap 17. By lap 20 Parnell was down in 5th place over a minute and a half behind the leader. The fact that he finished 2nd only 73 seconds behind the winning Talbot shows that the B.R.M was working very well and Parnell drove it beautifully. However, the race was a cruise for Louis Rosier who won his second victory of the current season.

Here is the complete result of the 80 lap race:

   1.
24
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1. 30. 08'02
   2.
28
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
1. 30. 15'42
   3.
18
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
79 laps
   4.
22
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
79 laps
   5.
16
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26
78 laps
   6.
20
LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
76 laps
   7.
10
R. MANZON GORDINI 15
75 laps
   8.
8
J. ACHARD DELAGE D6.70
73 laps
   9.
6
H. LOUVEAU DELAGE D6.70
73 laps
Fastest lap:   L. CHIRON, MASERATI 4.CLT   on lap 57,   1. 05'00

Retired:
4
J. SWATERS TALBOT LAGO T.26
64 laps
12
M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15
43 laps
26
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
30 laps
30
B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT
10 laps
2
J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26
7 laps
14
A. SIMON GORDINI 15
5 laps

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