17th October 2012

GRAN PREMIO LUIGI ARCANGELI

GONZALES SURVIVES

This race was named in honour of a very popular local motor cycle and car racer who was killed in a car race at Monza in 1931. The race, which took place in 1947, was very much a low-key Italian affair but I decided to run it with a small predominantly Italian-based entry from 1950-51.

It turned out to be a race of extreme attrition. At the end of the 60 laps only four cars survived to see the chequered flag. For half the race a tremendous battle was fought out between Gonzales' Ferrari and a very on-form Louis Chiron who actually led for several laps before having his engine fail on lap 38. Thereafter, Froilan cruised home a lap ahead of second man Bonetto and even more ahead of the other finishers.

ENTRY

As stated, the entry for the race was very red. Five of the fourteen cars were Ferraris, three from the factory team for Gonzales, Taruffi and test driver Dorino Serafini. In addition, the British Thinwall Special Ferrari 375 was brought over for Peter Whitehead and there was a rare appearence for Swiss driver Rudi Fischer with his red and white car.

Maseratis were in attendance for use by Chiron, Farina and Schell as well as the Milano Maseratis that appeared at Reims recently with the same two drivers, Bonetto, who was hoping to last more than half a lap this time, and Marimon. Two ther Italian cars were the OSCAs. Rol was back with his works car while it was a pleasure to see Prince Bira back with his car which was shelved months ago in favour of his Maserati 4.CLT. The light blue and yellow OSCA has undergone a considerable amount of modification and Bira was hopeful of much better car performance than he had the last time he drove it. The only non-Italian cars on the entry list were two of the little Gordinis which optimistically turned up to battle the Italians.

PRACTICE

Chiron managed to get his Maserati onto the front row of the grid alongside pole man Gonzales and Serafini and ahead of Taruffi. All the other Maseratis followed Taruffi, with Whitehead putting the Thinwall car in amongst them. The two OSCAs were 10th and 11th with Fischer behind them but ahead of the two Gordinis.

Here is the full list of practice times:

    1.
2
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
1.02'45
    2.
4
D. SERAFINI FERRARI 375
1.03'59
    3.
8
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
1.03'86
    4.
6
P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375
1.04'05
    5.
14
F. BONETTO MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
1.04'82
    6.
22
P. WHITEHEAD THINWALL FERRARI 375
1.06'03
    7.
12
O. MARIMON MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
1.06'51
    8.
20
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
1.06'72
    9.
6
N. FARINA MASERATI 4.CLT
1.06'90
  10.
28
B. BIRA OSCA
1.07'48
  11.
18
F. ROL OSCA
1.07'49
  12.
16
R. FISCHER FERRARI 212
1.08'29
  13.
26
M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15
1.09'77
  14.
24
R. MANZON GORDINI 15
1.10'07

THE RACE

The rate of retirements could have spoiled this race completely; eight of the fourteen starters were gone well before half distance but as is often said, it only takes two cars to make a good race and for 37 laps Gonzales' Ferrari and Chiron's Maserati made it a very exciting race indeed. The man from Monaco led for the first 24 laps but never by much, then Gonzales went past but was unable to draw away by more than a few seconds and it appeared that the scrap would last right to the end. Sadly, on lap 38 the Maserati's engine failed and the Argentine was left to trundle around for the remainder of the race, easing off considerably but still lapping second man Bonetto.

The two Maserati Milanos ran steadily with Marimon leading his much more experienced team-mate for a time around the middle of the race but Felice re-passed Onofre on lap 48 and eventually finished a lap ahead of Marimon. Although Rol's OSCA departed the race as early as lap 9 with brake failure, Bira soldiered on with his car and looked all set for fourth place until 5 laps from the end when the engine failed. This promoted Robert Manzon to 4th place and a rare finish for a Gordini. Robert's fastest race lap was way quicker than his best in practice and the Frenchman was delighted to have made it to the finish. The other two Ferraris were running well in 3rd and 4th places but retired within a couple of laps of eachother, Serafini with engine trouble while Taruffi spun off the road.

So a fairly unsatisfactory event came to a dull conclusion but we were left wondering how good it might have been if Chiron's car had survived the whole race distance.

Here is the full result of the 60 lap race:

    1.
2
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
1.06.13'32
    2.
14
F. BONETTO MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
59 laps
    3.
12
O. MARIMON MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
58 laps
    4.
24
R. MANZON GORDINI 15
57 laps
    5.
28
B. BIRA OSCA
54 laps NRF

Fastest lap:   CHIRON,   MASERATI 4.CLT,   on lap 37,   1.02'78

Retired:
 
28
B. BIRA OSCA
54 laps
 
8
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
37 laps
 
26
M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15
22 laps
 
6
P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375
22 laps
 
4
D. SERAFINI FERRARI 375
20 laps
 
20
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
15 laps
 
22
P. WHITEHEAD THINWALL FERRARI 375
14 laps
 
18
F. ROL OSCA
9 laps
 
10
N. FARINA MASERATI 4.CLT
8 laps
 
16
R. FISCHER FERRARI 212
6 laps

FORLI FOUGHTS

  • The tiny little Forli circuit cause more problems for the drivers than many bigger, faster circuits.
  • It was such a pity that Chiron lost his engine because he was giving Gonzales a really hard time.
  • The two Milano Maseratis came home second and third which delighted the team no end.
  • Bira says that the handling difficulties that plagued him earlier in the year are still there.....
  • ...but the car was improved although he was only ahead of Manzon when the engine failed six laps from the end.
  • For a time it appeared that both Gordinis would finish but Trintignant's brakes went away leaving Manzon to get his car home.
  • The non-Championship circus now heads back to France for a race arounds the streets of Dijon.

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