14.11.12

GRAND PRIX de BOURGOGNE - Dijon

FIRST YOU MUST FINISH AND ROSIER DID

It should have been a win for Wimille and his Alfa Romeo, but he unaccountably spun off with 40 of the 100 laps left to run. So that left Raymond Sommer in a comfortable lead, but his gearbox failed and Louis Rosier, who had struggled with a poor handling Talbot all afternoon, was left to pick up the win from a resurgent Harry Schell.

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The Grand Prix de Bourgogne was run for Formula 1 cars, back in 1946. It was held on a street circuit in the centre of the French city of Dijon. As far as I can tell, this circuit was used only once.

ENTRY

I have included eight of the drivers who actually took part in the real race, plus a further six who could easily have taken part, but didn't!

Jean-Pierre Wimille has what may be his only ever appearance in any of my races, driving the Alfa Romeo that Farina has driven so far this season. Two other Italian cars present are the Maseratis of Louis Chiron and Harry Schell. The other eleven cars on the list are all French built and French driven. Five Talbots will be handled by, in no particular order, Sommer, Rosier, Etancelin, Giraud-Cabantous and Levegh. The usual trio of Gordinis arrived for Trintignant, Manzon and Simon, with Simon's car having a ballasted chassis in an attempt to stop the little car from trying to tip over in tight corners. Charles Pozzi brought along the big Delahaye while the two pretty Delages were in the hands of Eugene Chaboud and Louis Gerard for the first time.

PRACTICE

There was little doubt that the Alfa of Wimille would be fastest in practice and so he was, in both of the sessions. But what was quite a surprise was the fact that the two Talbots that shared the front row with Jean-Pierre, were not that far behind him. Sommer was within a second with Rosier only three-quarters of a second behind Raymond. Chiron was a close 4th with three more Talbots lining up beside and behind his Monagasque Maserati. Harry Schell was down in 8th place but he had an engine failure early in second practice and arrived on the grid on race day with a new, untried power unit in place.

That left the lesser French cars to fill the final six places on the grid and possibly somewhat unexpectedly, Chaboud was beaten only by Manzon in this mini-grid, finishing ahead of Simon in the modified Gordini and Trintignant with Pozzi and Gerard bringing up the rear.

Here is the full list of practice times:

1.
2
J-P. WIMILLE ALFA ROMEO 158
1.17'10
2.
24
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.17'86
3.
14
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.18'54
4.
8
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
1.19'20
5.
26
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.20'23
6.
12
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.21'50
7.
22
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.21'54
8.
20
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
1.21'96
9.
16
R. MANZON SIMCA GORDINI 15
1.22'80
10.
6
E. CHABOUD DELAGE D6.70
1.24'11
11.
28
A. SIMON SIMCA GORDINI 15
1.25'05
12.
18
M. TRINTIGNANT SIMCA GORDINI 15
1.25'19
13.
10
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
1.26'36
14.
4
L. GERARD DELAGE D6.70
1.25'05

THE RACE

For 60 of the 100 laps, Wimille's Alfa Romeo held an ever increasing lead, having made the best start, fastest lap as early as lap 4 and he looked totally comfortable, being half a minute clear of Sommer by half distance. Maybe it was all too comfortable because coming around the final corner at the end of lap 60 the rear of the red car broke away and suddenly Wimille was climbing rather shamefacedly out of a slightly damaged but no longer raceable car. Sommer and Rosier had swapped places in 2nd and 3rd early on but as has happened several times this season, the handling of Rosier's car deteriorated quickly and he slipped further and further behind his fellow Frenchman. As the race entered it's final quarter, Sommer was not a long way off a lap ahead of Rosier and had lapped Schell whose new engine seemed to be an improvement over the old one. Suddenly, around lap 76 it was clear that Sommer was slowing and his engine revs could be heard rising while to car was going slower. He stopped on lap 80 with no drive left at all, the final drive unit having failed completely.

So, Rosier, sliding around on every corner, inherited the lead, but Schell was closing the gap on every lap. Sadly for 'Arree, there were nowhere near enough laps left and Rosier was able to reach the chequered flag with almost 25 seconds to spare. Louis Chiron was a close 4th behind the two Talbots for the first 20 laps but he crashed out on lap 25. Etancelin and Levegh both had splendid races, moving up as retirements came along, finishing in 3rd and 4th places, pleasing both drivers immensely. Trintignant retired quite early on but Manzon and Simon looked certain to finish 5th and 6th after excellent races, but unfortunately Simon's car lost its brakes about 10 laps from the end; so Manzon achieved another top five finish, just as he had done at Forli. Things are beggining to look up for Gordini. Gerard did not finish in his Delage and Pozzi beat the other one for 6th place.

Here is the full result of the 100 lap race:

1.
14
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
2.17.25'33
2.
20
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
2.17.49'93
3.
26
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26
99 laps
4.
12
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
97 laps
5.
16
R. MANZON SIMCA GORDINI 15
94 laps
6.
10
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
93 laps
7.
6
E. CHABOUD DELAGE D6.70
92 laps

Fastest lap:   J-P WIMILLE, ALFA ROMEO 158   on lap 4,   1. 18'36

Retired:
28
A. SIMON SIMCA GORDINI 15
85 laps
24
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26
79 laps
4
L. GERARD DELAGE D6.70
59 laps
2
J-P. WIMILLE ALFA ROMEO 158
59 laps
18
M. TRINTIGNANT SIMCA GORDINI 15
49 laps
22
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
40 laps
8
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
24 laps

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