6.7.13

COMMINGES GRAND PRIX

EASY VICTORY FOR VILLORESI

In contrast to the recent race in Strasbourg Luigi Villoresi had no problems beating a rather thin, predominantly French field of runners in the race around the countryside west of the central French town of St. Gaudens-Comminges.

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The real race back in 1948 seems to have had just seven starters. My race will have those same seven, although once again, not all in the same type of car that they drove back then. Also I am adding a second Gordini for Robert Manzon simply because I want to.

ENTRY

The blue and red entry for this race broke down into five French blue cars and three Italian red ones. The three Italian cars were all Maserati 4.CLTs and they were in the hands of Luigi Villoresi, Nello Pagani and Frenchman Comte George Raphaël Béthenod de Montbressieux who fortunately chooses to race under the name of 'Raph'.

Three of the blue cars were Talbot Lagos with two very strong drivers in Louis Rosier and Louis Chiron. The third was handled by the lesser known Pierre Meyrat. As previously mentioned, Robert Manzon was added to the Gordini strength along with regular driver Andre Simon.

PRACTICE

First practice was dominated by Villoresi and his Maserati. The veteran Italian setting a time that was over three seconds faster than the second fastest time which was set, rather surprisingly, by 'Raph'. It was no surprise to see Chiron and Rosier next up but Manzon was going very well in his Gordini and was only a second and a half slower than Rosier. Pagani, Meyrat and Simon completed the order.

Between the two sessions, Gordini played musical chairs with his drivers.He rolled out the car that Trintignant normally drives and installed Manzon in it - moving Simon into Manzon's car. Simon was able to lap a little faster with the ex-Manzon car than Manzon had done but still wound up last of the eight runners. In Trintignant's car Manzon found over three seconds but actually dropped from 5th to 6th on the grid because Nello Pagani improved his time even more. Up at the front there was a surprise because although Villoresi improved his best time it was only by a couple of tenths of a second, whereas Chiron went more than five seconds faster, to pip the Maserati to pole position by just under 3/10ths of a second. Rosier went quicker than 'Raph' leaving the Count in 4th place ahead of Pagani. As in the first session, Meyrat and Simon brought up the rear.

Here is the full list of practice times:

1.
8
L. CHIRON TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.48'99
2.
2
L. VILLORESI MASERATI 4.CLT
1.49'27
3.
10
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.49'60
4.
12
'RAPH' MASERATI 4.CLT
1.51'93
5.
16
N. PAGANI MASERATI 4.CLT
1.52'20
6.
6
R. MANZON SIMCA GORDINI 15
1.53'27
7.
14
P. MEYRAT TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.53'35
8.
4
A. SIMON SIMCA GORDINI 15
1.54'70

THE RACE

An easy race to describe. Villoresi was 11 seconds ahead of Chiron by lap 10 and nobody was able to get anywhere near the Maserati for almost two hours. Chiron kept him honest - by half distance the lead was still only 15 seconds but when Chiron retired with engine trouble on lap 34 Villoresi was at least a lap ahead of the whole field. This was because Rosier had stopped at the pits to change tyres on lap 27; thereafter Louis flew around, unlapped himself and set fastest lap on his 35th tour. But even then he was almost a minute and a half behind the Italian at the finish.

'Raph' drove a splendid race, holding 4th early on which very briefly became 2nd when Rosier pitted and Chiron retired, but the Talbot went past very quickly leaving the Count to drive steadily to a clear 3rd place. Manzon was up in 5th in the first few laps but lost his steering on lap 24. However, his place was taken by team-mate Simon who had his best race for some time, leading home the two remaining finishers, Pagani's Maserati and Meyrat's Talbot.

Here is the full result of the 60 lap race:

1.
2
L. VILLORESI MASERATI 4.CLT
1.53.38'32
2.
10
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.55.00'82
3.
12
'RAPH' MASERATI 4.CLT
59 laps
4.
4
A. SIMON SIMCA GORDINI 15
58 laps
5.
16
N. PAGANI MASERATI 4.CLT
57 laps
6.
14
P. MEYRAT TALBOT LAGO T.26
57 laps

Fastest lap:   L. ROSIER, TALBOT LAGO T.26   on lap 35,   1. 49'03

Retired:
8
L. CHIRON TALBOT LAGO T.26
33 laps
6
R. MANZON SIMCA GORDINI 15
23 laps

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