28th October 2010

R.A.C BRITISH GRAND PRIX
Silverstone

FORZA ALFA ROMEO

It has been a long while coming but finally the first race in The Titans World Championship has arrived. Ninety laps around Silverstone will make up the British Grand Prix, which not surprisingly has pulled together a magnificent entry of 26 cars.

For the first time this season Alfa Corsa are here in force with four cars, all re-bodied from the ones seen at Syracuse and San Remo earlier in the year. The drivers are Farina, Fangio, Bonetto and Sanesi. Ranged against them are three works Ferraris with the strong driver line-up of Ascari, Villoresi and Gonzales. Peter Whitehead will pilot Tony Vandervell's Thinwall Special, which of course is another 375 Ferrari. One would expect the front runners to come from these eight cars but don't rule out one or two of the 4.CLT Maseratis that will be competing. Chiron and Bira will both surely be quick and maybe Toulo de Graffenried may challenge too. Less will be expected of the two cars driven by British drivers, David Murray and the little-known John James.

Much will be expected of the two B.R.M V.16s that Reg Parnell and Peter Walker will drive. The cars looked quite good in yesterday's free practice session but the stop watches were not running. Three E.R.As are present; two of the older design for Bob Gerard and Brian Shawe-Taylor, while Leslie Johnson will drive the E-type version. Another British runner will be the Alta of Joe Kelly. The rest of the entry is French. Four Talbots are here but only two of them are blue - Rosier's and Giraud-Cabantous'. Duncan Hamilton has his green version while Johnny Claes has brought his yellow car over from Belgium. Last and probably least are the three works Gordinis. Trintignant, Manzon and Simon will once again struggle with the little cars although the lack of really sharp corners at Silverstone gives them hope for a slightly better weekend.

PRACTICE

The first session began in fairly cool conditions with the track offering little grip, not being rubbered in that early in the proceedings. We had an idea that the Alfa Romeos were going to be very quick and so it proved with three of them sitting on the provisional front row, split only by the Ferrari of the splendid Gonzales who placed second to Fangio. Farina and Bonetto. A full list of times can be found below but worthy of mentions are Chiron who got his Maserati in amongst the Ferraris, Parnell, who went really well in the B.R.M and Rosier, whose talent enabled him to get the lumbering Talbot into the top ten. Leslie Johnson did very well with the newer E.R.A as did Bob Gerard with the older type. Even Maurice Trintignant was happy, ending the session with SIX cars behind him, albeit two of those being his team-mates. John James had an electrical issue with his Maserati, Walker crashed the second B.R.M at Stowe and the engines in Kelly's Alta and Shawe-Taylor's E.R.A will need attention before the second session.

The fastest five from first practice all set faster times and continued to top the list after session two but the order changed. Farina and Bonetto both put in quicker laps than Gonzales while Fangio also went quicker but dropped to second behind Dr. Farina. Ascari took a tidy chunk off his previous best but could still manage only fifth. Reg Parnell had the B.R.M wound up and got ahead of Chiron who did not improve. Giraud, Trintignant and Murray were the only others not to go faster in the session. Thus Trint dropped to 23rd and Murray to 25th. Considerable improvements were made by Kelly in the Alta and especially Shawe-Taylor, although despite gaining 6 seconds still sits last on the list.

Final practice began with a bang when Brian Shawe-Taylor found seven seconds from somewhere and lifted himself from last on the grid up to 17th. Eventually, with others improving, that became 19th but it was a remarkable and inexplicable event. This left Joe Kelly at the bottom of the list and with the two British-driven Maseratis improving the three Gordinis were left down the bottom of the list with only the Alta behind them. The midfield saw a few changes with Chiron dopping down, unable to match his first day times while de Graffenried moved the other way, gaining six places from practice 1. The big mover in the midefield was Sanesi, who finally got the fourth Alfa going properly and moved into the top six. Which left the three Alfas and the two Ferraris to battle it out for the front row. Somebody was going to miss out from the four car front row and for a time that looked as though it was going to be Bonetto but the Italian conjured up a brilliant final lap to leap to the very top of the list. However, Fangio then did exactly the same thing, pipping Felice by just over half a second. Then Farina got in on the act, getting ahead of Bonetto. In the midst of all this, Gonzales lapped quicker than Ascari and stole fourth place, leaving a disappointed Alberto to start on row two with his mentor Villoresi and Sanesi. Best of the rest is Reg Parnell and the B.R.M but Reg will be hard pressed to get amongst the red hordes.

So the race looks like being an Alfa Romeo benefit but just maybe Ferrari can spoil the Turin party. Watch this space.

THE RACE

Following the practice sessions it was hard to see the men from the four-leaf clover being beaten and so it proved. After the advantage changed hands several times between Farina and Fangio it was the Argentine driver who came out ahead, winning by ten seconds after the Good Doctor's car seemed to wilt just a little towards the end. Never at any time during the 90 laps did any car other than an Alfa Romeo hold a position higher than 4th. Even when the Alfas made their refuelling stops the Ferrari duo of Ascari and Gonzales were still unable to get into the first three. The lead was exchanged four times with even the back-up man, Felice Bonetto, taking a turn in front around three-quarter distance. Team orders dictated that he drop behind the two lead drivers, which he dutifully did, although his 3rd place was accompanied by the fastest race lap.

The Ferrari drivers simply had no answer to their Italian adversaries and in the end Ascari spun off at Maggots on lap 69, climbing out and walking away from the car in despair. Ferrari have a lot of work to do to make this season's championship something more than a complete Alfa whitewash. Gonzales saved a small amount of Maranello pride by beating Sanesi's Alfa to finish fourth.

Of the rest there is little to say. More than half of the starters retired, including the two works B.R.Ms, neither of which made it to 10 laps. Villoresi crashed the third Ferrari at Copse on lap 20 while all but two of the Maseratis went out and only one Talbot made it to the finish - Rosier's beautifully-driven car which battled all race long with Bira's Maserati, finally getting the upper hand on lap 75 and drawing away to beat the light blue 4.CLT by about 20 seconds just one lap behind the winner.

Leslie Johnson drove a faultless race in the E-type E.R.A to finish 10th, three laps adrift while a really fun battled was carried on all afternoon between Joe Kelly's Alta and Trintignant in the difficult Gordini. With five laps left it appeared that the French car was at last actually going to finish ahead of someone but Kelly found a last ounce of speed and beat Petoulet by just four seconds. It should be noted that both were EIGHT laps behind Fangio.

Here is the full result of the 90 lap race:


   1.     2 J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158  2. 42. 02'12
   2.     1 G. FARINA ALFA ROMEO 158  2. 42. 12'37
   3.     4 F. BONETTO ALFA ROMEO 158  2. 42. 36'25
   4.   12 F. GONZALES FERRARI 375  2. 43. 34'93
   5.     3 C. SANESI ALFA ROMEO 158  2. 43. 45'35
   6.   22 L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26     89 laps
   7.   17 B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT     89 laps
   8.   14 P. WHITEHEAD THINWALL Spl. FERRARI 375     88 laps
   9.   26 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT     87 laps
 10.   28 L. JOHNSON E.R.A E-type     87 laps
 11.     5 J. KELLY ALTA GP-3     82 laps
 12.   19 M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15     82 laps
Fastest lap:   F. BONETTO, ALFA ROMEO 158,   on lap 66,   1.43'67

Retired:

    11 A. ASCARI FERRARI 375     68 laps
    16 J. JAMES MASERATI 4.CLT     59 laps
    18 D. HAMILTON TALBOT LAGO T.26     57 laps
    20 R. MANZON GORDINI 15     53 laps
    27 Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26     43 laps
    25 J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26     38 laps
      9 B. SHAWE-TAYLOR E.R.A B-type     37 laps
    23 L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT     25 laps
    10 L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375     19 laps
      8 R. GERARD E.R.A B-type     16 laps
    20 R. MANZON GORDINI 15     15 laps
      7 P. WALKER B.R.M P.15     10 laps
    15 D. MURRAY MASERATI 4.CLT       5 laps
      6 R. PARNELL B.R.M P.15       3 laps

Silverstone Surmisings:

  • The result was really no great surprise. It was like the Panzer division versus the Infantry - no contest.
  • Hopefully the circuit configuration suited the Alfas more than some of the other tracks will.
  • Despite having been unbeaten this season prior to this race, Ascari said he had not driven this hard for a long time.
  • Bonetto showed great restraint. He could well have won the race had he been allowed to.
  • A dismal day for B.R.M. They will be looking for much more next time out, maybe at Monaco, though their attendance
        there is not certain.
  • The reliability amongst the midfield runners was very poor - but then, it was a long race.
  • Rosier and Bira's scrap for sixth place was enthralling. The Siamese driver had a slipping clutch early on and although
        it righted itself and he passed Louis around half distance it was the Frenchman who eventually took the position.
  • It is a pity that the E-type E.R.A does not go faster. Its handling is superb, never looking like leaving the road.
  • Eight laps adrift is no cause for excitement at Gordini but Trintignant and Simon really went quite well.
  • In total, 1,420 racing laps were completed during the race.
  • The next race for this series of cars is the Grand Prix de Marseilles at the Parc Borely circuit.
  • The entry consists of Ferraris, Maseratis, Talbots, Gordinis and H.W.Ms - but no Alfa Romeos.

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