23rd August 2010

GRAND PRIX de BORDEAUX

FINE VICTORY FOR WHITEHEAD

The F.1 circus has now pitched its tents in the delightful French city of Bordeaux where the Grand Prix de Bordeaux will be run on the short circuit that runs alongside the Garonne river.

ENTRY & PRACTICE

A smallish entry has assembled for the 123 lap grind but the 14 drivers reperesent no less than 7 different nationalities. From France come three Talbots - Rosier, Giraud-Cabantous and Louveau - while Gordini bring their three little cars for the usual pilots Trintignant, Manzon and Simon. Three Maseratis are also present, driven by Schell, de Graffenried and a brand new one for Farina. There will be two Ferraris but not from the factory team. Rudi Fischer has brought his car while over from its race in Jersey is the Thinwall Special Ferrari 375 that Peter Whitehead drives. It was a short boat trip from Jersey to St. Malo followed by a nice run down through France for the British team. Also from Britain there are two H.W.M but along with Lance Macklin the second driver of one of the little green cars is rather surprising - Louis Chiron from Monaco will drive the car usually handled by Stirling Moss. Finally Prince Bira will try again with his OSCA, the Siamese driver is really getting to grips with the car now and hopes its improvement is maintained.

Nino Farina in his new Maserati set the fastest time in both practice sessions, though in the end it was just one banzai lap right at the end of the second session that stole pole position from the Talbot of Yves Giraud-Cabantous who surprised everyone, including I suspect himself, with a super lap towards the end of the session. Yves surpassed the best laps of Schell, Rosier and Whitehead to take top spot before being bumped off the summit by the Italian. The gap was just 0'38 of a second. Indeed, both Schell and Rosier in 3rd and 4th were within a second of the Good Doctor F. The grid was split clearly in two groups. Behind Whitehead came de Graffenried, Chiron and Bira, all fairly close in times but then a gap of almost two seconds separated those eight from the other six. Great credit to Manzon who actually managed to get his Gordini ahead of both Fischer and Macklin, with Louveau's Talbot only a couple of tenths quicker than Robert's little blue machine. The other two Gordinis brought up the rear as usual.

THE RACE

When a race is as long as this one it is inevitable that quality will come through in the end. And there is no better quality Formula 1 car than a Ferrari - well, certainly not on this entry, anyway. Following a duel between Whitehead's Thinwall Ferrari and Rosier's Talbot that see-sawed first one way then the other it was the Englishman in the green car who finally gained the upper hand and pulled well away over the last 25 laps of the race to gain his second victory this season. The Talbot had led the race for around half of the 123 laps but the blue car seemed to wilt - or maybe the driver did - in the last 15 laps and sadly for Louis he lost second place to Farina's flying Maserati with just a few laps left. Starting from pole position, the Italian in his new Maserati was tardily away and simply did not get going properly for many laps. Indeed, with 50 laps left to run he was virtually a minute behind Whitehead, yet finished 49 seconds adrift. Despite one very quick lap early on the Maserati never showed anything like its practice form and the Good Doctor was a very disappointed man at the end even though he finished second.

Harry Schell was none too pleased either. From the front row of the grid 'Arree slipped back from the front runners very quickly and although he inherited 4th place when Giraud-Cabantous - the very early leader of the race - retired with engine problems before half distance, that 4th place was two whole laps behind the first three. A determined Bira kept the OSCA going, though not particularly quickly, to finish 5th, with Chiron's sprightly H.W.M and Louveau's ponderous Talbot being the only other finishers.

The race was another enormous disappointment for poor old Toulo de Graffenried whose Maserati staggered away at the start and died after just 4 laps. Macklin lost his brakes, Fisher his engine and the less said about the three Gordinis, the better. Once again, they were dreadful. When Simon retired, having lasted the longest, he was already 7 laps behind and there were still around 50 left to run.

So once again the British-entered Ferrari has won a race and but for a driving error by Whitehead in Jersey recently, Ferrari might well have logged up its sixth victory out of six so far this season. How we need those Alfa Romeos.

Here is the full result of the 123 lap race:

   1.   26 P. WHITEHEAD THINWALL Spl. FERRARI 375     3. 06. 51'98
   2.     2 G. FARINA MASERATI 4.CLT     3. 07. 40'68
   3.   14 L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26     3. 07. 46'72
   4.   12 H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT         121 laps
   5.   28 B. BIRA OSCA         119 laps
   6.   30 L. CHIRON H.W.M         118 laps
   7.   16 H. LOUVEAU TALBOT LAGO T.26         116 laps
Fastest lap:   G. FARINA, MASERATI 4.CLT,   on lap 28,   1.27'04
Retired:
    22 R. FISCHER FERRARI 212         90 laps
      8 A. SIMON GORDINI 15         70 laps
    18 Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26         58 laps
      4 M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15         30 laps
      6 R. MANZON GORDINI 15         20 laps
    20 L. MACKLIN H.W.M         17 laps
    10 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT           4 laps

BORDEAUX BUMBLINGS:

  • It would be interesting to see how well the Thinwall Ferrari can perform against the factory cars. One day, maybe.
  • The problem that slowed Rosier towards the end seems to be transmission-related.
  • Farina reported that his engine seemed tight throughout the whole race.
  • At his quickest, Schell would have been close to the leading trio but the car seems to run inconsistently.
  • Bira is still not satisfied with his OSCA's competitiveness. He plans to play around with its weight distribution.
  • On the subject of OSCAs - there is a rumour of a factory car in the offing. Breaths are baited!
  • Wider track measurements on the Gordinis made little difference. What next? I cannot imagine.
  • At the end of the race the H.W.M mechanics discovered one of Chiron's wheels to be almost falling off.
  • The Grand Prix de Rousillon at Perpignan is the next event on the calendar.
  • The entry is very small, around 10 cars, but Fangio's name is on the list. Alfa or Maserati? We shall have to wait and see.

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