28th June 2013

BUENOS AIRES GRAND PRIX

JACK'S BACK

Following a fairly disastrous Argentine Grand Prix, things finally came good for the Cooper team with Jack Brabham driving to an excellent flag to flag victory and second driver Bruce McLaren taking a solid third place.

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ENTRY

A major disappointment came with the news that Ferrari had decided not to travel the 500 miles south to Cordoba where the oddly titled Buenos Aires Grand Prix was to take place in the pretty surroundings of the Parque Sarmiento circuit which twists and turns through the trees and even gives the drivers the opportunity to avoid a statue in the middle of the road at one point! Maybe Ferrari had the best idea....

Another absentee from the recent Grand Prix was Stirling Moss who did not appear with Rob Walker's new Lotus 18, leaving Maurice Trintignant as the sole Walker representative with last year's T.51 Cooper. Thus the 22 cars from the previous race would have been reduced to 17, however, the race was given a Formula Libre twist with the addition of the strange Ferrari-Chevrolet which was to be driven by Argentine hero Froilan Gonzales. This car had an early 50s chassis with a V.8 Chevrolet engine of no less than 4.7 litres crammed under the bonnet. An odd concoction but it proved to be quite an effective one. The Cooper factory had worked very hard on the new T.53s and were hoping for a rather better run than their debut provided.Lotus had the two new 18s plus the old 16 for Laretta. Ireland had taken back the car he started practice with at the Grand Prix, having swapped with Stacey there, only to see Stacey win the race in 'his' car. Harry Schell arrived with the blue and white Cooper and B.R.M gave Dan Gurney his debut, replacing Graham Hill while Jo Bonnier was hoping to stay on the road this time.

Otherwise the entry was identical to that from the earlier race. Scuderia Centro Sud brought a large number of cars from Italy. Their true 1960 cars are Cooper Maserati T.51s which were driven in Argentina by two local drivers; Roberto Bonomi was virtually unknown to the European-based attendees but the other Cooper Maserati was in the hands of the very experienced Carlos Menditeguy who drove in Europe a few years ago. There were no less than five Maserati 250.Fs present and although several came with the Centro Sud team most were entered under the names of their drivers. Giorgio Scarlatti and Gino Munaron from Italy drove two of the cars - Munaron's being a car that used to have the V.12 Maserati engine but had been fitted with a regular 6 cylinder motor. The other three cars were driven by Antonio Creus from Spain, Ettore Chimeri from Venezuela and the Argentine driver whose name seems to confuse some people as he is sometimes called Estefano Nasif but who seems actually to be Nasif Estefano. Finally, two drivers who had spent 1959 driving for British factory teams arrived with other cars having been dropped by those teams. Harry Schell had the blue and white Cooper that he drove at Sebring last year while Masten Gregory arrived with the Formula 2 Behra Porsche which is now entered by the American Camoradi organisation.

PRACTICE

Much work had been done on the two works Coopers following a dismal Grand Prix in the captal, both in the area of engines but particularly the brakes which gave both drivers problems and caused their retirements in their debut race. Obviously they had been succesful because Jack Brabham was able to put his car on pole position. First practice was run on a slow, dirty circuit and the times were rapidly rendered irrelevant once the second session begun. Both Lotus 18s went well in the first session but slipped back in the second, with Ireland and Stacey filling the second row of the grid. So, who joined Jack at the front? Somewhat surprisingly, second fastest time was set by Maurice Trintignant in the older Cooper which seemed much more suited to this twistier circuit than it had been in the Championship race. Jo Bonnier was looking very good in the B.R.M, setting a time a whisker slower than Trint. The third row contained Gurney, playing himself in gently with the B.R.M, Menditeguy shocked the factory teams by posting a time faster than that of McLaren in the factory Cooper. Local knowledge may have had something to do with it.

The lower half of the grid was jumbled up in comparison with the previous race. Antonio Creus was going very well in his Maserati and posted the 9th best time, ahead of Gregory and Schell - the two Americans were both happier with their cars than in the previous race and lined up ahead of all the other 250.Fs. Gonzales was finding his old Ferrari going very quickly on the long straight - maybe no surprise given the size of its engine but in addition, it seemed to be quite good in the handling department, too. Laretta in the old works Lotus 16 brought up the rear although the last five cars on the grid were within a second of one another.

HERE IS THE FULL GRID ORDER FOR THE 60 LAP RACE:

   1.
18
J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.53
1.27'30
   2.
38
M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.27'59
   3.
40
J. BONNIER B.R.M type 48
1.27'60
   4.
20
I. IRELAND LOTUS CLIMAX 18
1.28'47
   5.
22
A. STACEY LOTUS CLIMAX 18
1.28'77
   6.
42
D. GURNEY B.R.M type 48
1.29'74
   7.
6
C. MENDITEGUY COOPER MASERATI T.51
1.29'76
   8.
16
B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.53
1.32'14
   9.
12
A. CREUS MASERATI 250.F
1.32'60
 10.
2
M. GREGORY BEHRA PORSCHE
1.32'88
 11.
34
H. SCHELL COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1.33'73
 12.
10
N. ESTEFANO MASERATI 250.F
1.34'16
 13.
49
F. GONZALES FERRARI CHEVROLET
1.34'74
 14.
14
G. MUNARON MASERATI 250.F
1.34'81
 15.
8
G. SCARLATTI MASERATI 250.F
1.35'08
 16.
4
R. BONOMI COOPER MASERATI T.51
1.35'82
 17.
44
E. CHIMERI MASERATI 250.F
1.35'84
 18.
46
A. LARRETA LOTUS CLIMAX 16
1.35'87

THE RACE

This was a perfect race for the World Champion who led off from pole position and was never headed at any point in the race. Jack put in ten very quick laps from the start of the race and was ten seconds clear by the end of those laps. Thereafter, he eased his pace but was in total control and although Trintignant reduced the lead to a couple of seconds by lap 20 as half distance approached he was passed by Bonnier who was unable to stay on Brabham's pace and the paired slipped slowly further behind. After a splendid run the Walker Cooper retired on lap 38 when the engine went sick. By the finish, Brabham had a lead of over 20 seconds and with McLaren having moved smoothly past the two Lotuses into third place following Trintignant's retirement, it was a sign that Cooper will be hard to beat again this season. For a short time early in the race Menditeguy actually led both the 1960 Lotuses with his old Cooper Maserati but common sense and logic eventually prevailed and first Ireland and then Stacey passed the red car. However, Carlos maintained his 6th place to the end. Ireland led Stacey for half the race, but never by much, until the handling of Innes' car begun to deteriorate, just as happened to him in Buenos Aires, albeit in the car Stacey was driving in this race. He waved the young Londoner through and the cars trundled home in 4th and 5th places with Ireland actually being lapped.

The slower half of the grid were led home by Harry Schell who had his best race in the blue Cooper although it was only in the final few laps that he got ahead of the excellent Gonzales who was very much the crowd favourite. Creus couldn't reproduce his practice speed and was unable to beat Gregory in the Behra Porsche while Laretta got the better of Chimeri, leaving the Argentine Maserati driver in the final finishing position.

Along with the retirement of Trintignant, there were five other retirements, the most notable of which was that of Dan Gurney who was extremely unlucky to lose a front wheel after just 9 laps. Three of the 250.F Maseratis failed to finish with the two Italians, Scarlatti and Munaron, completing a dismal sojourn in Argentina, neither having made it to the end of either race.

HERE IS THE RESULT OF THE THE 60 LAP RACE:

   1.
18
J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.53
1.30.48'61
   2.
40
J. BONNIER B.R.M type 48
1.31.11'30
   3.
16
B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.53
1.32.10'27
   4.
22
A. STACEY LOTUS CLIMAX 18
1.32.27'82
   5.
20
I. IRELAND LOTUS CLIMAX 18
59 laps
   6.
6
C. MENDITEGUY COOPER MASERATI T.51
59 laps
   7.
34
H. SCHELL COOPER CLIMAX T.51
58 laps
   8.
49
F. GONZALES FERRARI CHEVROLET
58 laps
   9.
12
A. CREUS MASERATI 250.F
58 laps
 10.
2
M. GREGORY BEHRA PORSCHE
58 laps
 11.
46
A. LARRETA LOTUS CLIMAX 16
58 laps
 12.
44
E. CHIMERI MASERATI 250.F
57 laps
Fastest lap:   J. BONNIER,     B.R.M. type 48,   on lap 47,   1.26'85

Retired:
10
N. ESTEFANO MASERATI 250.F
55 laps
38
M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.45
38 laps
14
G. MUNARON MASERATI 250.F
31 laps
4
R. BONOMI COOPER MASERATI T.51
13 laps
8
G. SCARLATTI MASERATI 250.F
9 laps
42
D. GURNEY B.R.M type 48
9 laps

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