29th January 2013

GROSSER PREIS von DEUTSCHLAND - Nurburgring

SUPERB FANGIO HEADS ALFA 1-2-3

An ambition fulfilled; I always wanted to build a replica Nurburgring Nordschleife to run a slot car race on and now I've done it. The circuit was over 24 meters long and took nigh on 20 seconds to complete a single lap. But it made no difference to the Alfa Romeo team who totally dominated the whole event, with no other car ever looking like disturbing the three leading cars from Turin.

ENTRY

Twenty-three cars arrived to do battle on the daunting, multi-cornered circuit set in the Eifel mountains. Both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo brought four cars each, with Ascari, Villoresi, Taruffi and Gonzales in the Maranello machines and Fangio, Farina and Bonetto being joined by guest German driver Paul Pietsch from Freiburg in the dark red cars from Turin. One other Ferrari was present - Swiss driver Rudi Fischer brought his red and white car along for a fairly rare appearance. Rather surprisingly, only three Maseratis arrived for this race. Toulo de Graffenried and Toni Branca came from Switzerland with their red cars and the light blue car of Prince Bira made its usual appearance.

The other eleven cars were all French. Gordini were hoping that their recent upswing in form would continue with their regular drivers Trintignant, Manzon and Simon. The cars had been strengthened and made rather heavier, with their centre of gravity lowered, to aid stability. Then there were no less than eight Talbot Lagos. Regulars Rosier, Etancelin, Giraud-Cabantous and Levegh were joined on this occasion by Louis Chiron in another blue car and Swaters, Cleas and Hamilton in cream, yellow and green cars respectively.

PRACTICE

Three practice sessions resulted in complete domination by the Alfa Romeo team. The cars with the clover leaf badge were so quick that two of their drivers - Farina and Bonetto - did not bother to run in the second session, Bonetto having set fastest time in the first. Farina would have gone out but the car was suffering from electrical problems which could have been fixed in time but so far ahead were the three Alfas that it was not deemed necessary to rush the repairs. Fangio, meanwhile, having been the slowest of the three in the first session, went quicker than the other two in the second and even faster still in final practice, ending up with the fastest lap by over 5 seconds. All three Alfa drivers improved their times towards the end but it was Bonetto who remained ahead of Farina, which did not please the Good Doctor, who pulled rank on Felice and took over the #77 car for the race. The numbers were changed so that Farina retained #76 though in the car Bonetto had practiced. Guest driver Paul Pietsch did a reasonably competent job, taking 6th place behind the two Ferraris of Villoresi, who was faster than Ascari on this occasion although by less than half a second. Although Ferrari do accept that they do not quite have the pace to beat the Alfas on a regular basis, I think they were more than a little disappointed to be 7 seconds slower than Farina. Even worse, the other two Maranello machines driven by Taruffi and Gonzales were down in 10th and 11th places, behind three Talbots and almost a quarter of a minute slower than their team-mates. (It must be remembered that this is a very long lap - but even so....)

The three Talbots that sat in positions 7, 8 and 9 were those of Chiron, Claes and Rosier. all of whom were going extremely well, especially Chiron who was only just over 3 seconds slower than Pietsch's Alfa, and Claes who was less than half a second slower. It is worth pointing out that in the unofficial, but timed, pre-practice session, it was Chiron who set the fastest time, albeit in a time that would only have placed him 12th on the grid once the serious business got under way. Sitting on the 4th row of the 4-3-4 grid were Bira, Swaters and Hamilton. Bira had a very poor first practice and a not terribly good second but following some fettling overnight, the car went infinitely better in the final session.

Rudi Fischer lost the whole of first practice while the mechanics installed a new engine in the red and white Ferrari. The Swiss took it fairly steadily during the two sessions he did get to run in and he was fairly satisfied to end up in 17th place. One place ahead of him on the grid stood the excellent Robert Manzon who had the Gordini going as never before, the modifications mentioned above were clearly having some effect because the little French car was but 49 seconds behind the pole position time and barely half a minute behind the best of the Ferraris; this equates to around 5 seconds on a 2.5 mile circuit. Trintignant was going pretty well too in the second Gordini, although his best lap was 14 seconds slower than Manzon. He lined up 20th with Simon in the third car at the back, a further 19 seconds behind Petoulet.

Here is the full grid order the 20 lap race:

   1.
75
J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158
9.55'79
   2.
77
F. BONETTO ALFA ROMEO 158
10.01'06
   3.
76
N. FARINA ALFA ROMEO 158
10.06'66
   4.
72
L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375
10.13'58
   5.
71
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
10.12'91
   6.
78
P. PIETSCH ALFA ROMEO 158
10.19'84
   7.
85
L. CHIRON TALBOT LAGO T.26C
10.23'13
   8.
94
J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26C
10.23'46
   9.
84
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26C
10.23'46
   10.
73
P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375
10.27'41
   11.
74
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
10.27'48
   12.
95
B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT
10.28'73
   13.
93
J. SWATERS TALBOT LAGO T.26C
10.33'01
   14.
88
D. HAMILTON TALBOT LAGO T.26C
10.35'65
   15.
79
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
10.45'20
   16.
82
R. MANZON GORDINI T.15
10.46'19
   17.
91
R. FISCHER FERRARI 212
10.55'74
   18.
28
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26C
10.58'37
   19.
86
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26C
10.59'36
   20.
81
M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI T.15
11.00'02
   21.
87
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26C
11.05'95
   22.
92
A. BRANCA MASERATI 4.CLT
11.07'00
   23.
83
A. SIMON GORDINI T.15
11.19'12

THE RACE

The nature of the circuit, being so long, meant that only 20 laps would constitute a full Grand Prix distance. Thus the gaps between the cars became quite large as each long lap passed. Fangio made the best start and rapidly disappeared up the road, leaving Farina and Bonetto to run their own races. To be fair to Farina, once Fangio had opened the gap to 10 seconds, the Italian was able to peg the gap at that distance for half the race. It was only over the final quarter of the race that Farina eased off, allowing the Argentine to stretch away and win by more than one and three-quarter minutes. Indeed, Farina's best lap was quicker than Fangio's but Juan Manuel was very consistent and Doctor F. had no answer. Felice Bonetto did a solid job backing up the two Alfa star drivers and his third place was well-earned.

It was a terribly frustrating race for Ferrari because all four of their drivers tried really hard all day but simply had no answer to their supercharged opponents. By lap 15 the four cars from Maranello were running in places 4, 5, 6 and 7 (Pietsch having retired his Alfa on lap 13) and this would have been where they finished but Taruffi stopped near the Flugplatz on his final lap, dropping to a classified 9th place. Villoresi's was the best of the Ferraris but at the end he was almost five minutes behind Fangio.

Louis Chiron did a splendid job with his Talbot, being the best of the rest all through the weekend, eventually finishing 7th, two minutes ahead of the splendid Duncan Hamilton, who had an excellent race in the green Talbot. Both the Belgian Talbots failed to make the finish and Rosier retired with handling problems after six laps. It was perhaps surprising that de Graffenried was unable to get ahead of the better Talbots and he finished a lap behind the winner, in 10th place. Behind him came two of the Gordinis, both of which had another extremely encouraging race. Indeed, Manzon was very quick and was really not far behind the Swiss-driven Maserati.

Poor Bira went off on the first lap and is getting rather fed up with the Maserati. So much so that he plans to roll out his OSCA in the next race at Nantes. Rudi Fischer started well with his new engine but he had a minor accident on lap 6 which put him out of the race.

Here is the full result of the 20 lap race:


   1.
75
J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158
3.24.25'65
   2.
76
G. FARINA ALFA ROMEO 158
3.26.15'00
   3.
77
F. BONETTO ALFA ROMEO 158
3.27.29'43
   4.
72
L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375
3.29.21'41
   5.
71
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
3.31.10'75
   6.
74
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
3.32.06'74
   7.
85
L. CHIRON TALBOT LAGO T.26
3.33.56'75
   8.
88
D. HAMILTON TALBOT LAGO T.26
3.36.09'14
   9.
73
P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375
19 laps NRF
 10.
79
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
19 laps
 11.
82
R. MANZON GORDINI T.15
19 laps
 12.
81
M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI T.15
19 laps
 13.
92
A. BRANCA MASERATI 4.CLT
19 laps
 14.
87
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
18 laps
 15.
83
A. SIMON GORDINI T.15
18 laps
Fastest lap:   G. FARINA, ALFA ROMEO 158,   on lap 10,   10.01'72

Retired:
 
73
P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375
19 laps
 
94
J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26C
16 laps
 
93
J. SWATERS TALBOT LAGO T.26C
13 laps
 
78
P. PIETSCH ALFA ROMEO 158
12 laps
 
90
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26C
6 laps
 
84
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26C
6 laps
 
91
R. FISCHER FERRARI 212
5 laps
 
86
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26C
1 lap
 
95
B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT
0 laps

NURBURGRING NATTERS:

  • Fangio looked totally invincible from the beginning of final practice through to the end of the race.
  • Farina's decision to commandeer Bonetto's car looks to have been a good decision.
  • The Ferrari drivers looked to be trying much harder than the Alfa pilots and they were at a loss to explain their lack of competitiveness.
  • Chiron had an excellent race. Maybe he should leave the Maserati at home and continue to drive the Talbot.
  • Duncan Hamilton had a superb weekend and is hoping to race more often as the season progresses.
  • Poor old Bira had yet another very short race. This is becoming a very trying season for His Majesty.
  • Gordini went home with heads held high. All three cars finished and Manzon was very swift throughout the whole race.
  • The two Belgian Talbots both went very well but sadly, neither made it to the finish.
  • Fangio's Championship lead was extended but only by one point thanks to Farina setting fastest lap.
  • The next Championship race will come along quite soon; the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

    Go here if you wish to find out more about my Titans series.

    Back to my home page.