7th August 2010

JERSEY INTERNATIONAL ROAD RACE

REMARKABLE HAMPSHIRE SHOCKS THEM ALL

The only places in the United Kingdom where road races could be held were on islands - the Isle of Man and Jersey being the venues for such events. These islands were basically self-governing so could do what they liked. My next race is the Jersey International Road Race, run on the sea-front circuit on the western outskirts of the capital, St. Helier.

ENTRY & PRACTICE

Perhaps surprisingly, given its proximity to France, the interest in the event from the French Talbot runners is non-existent. Only one Gordini has come across from La Belle France, and that is to be driven by the little-known Swiss driver Toni Branca. However, there will be no less than seven Italian cars on the entry list, although two are green and one is blue. The Thinwall Special Ferrari that won so easily at Goodwood will again be driven by Peter Whitehead. Prince Bira from Siam has his unusual OSCA with him and there is much interest in this car as His Majesty claims that the early season problems are being ironed out slowly and he is hopeful of a better performance this time. Louis Chiron and Toulo de Graffenried have brought their Maseratis over and there will be similar cars for Reg Parnell, David Murray and the green version for David Hampshire.

The bottom half of the entry is entirely British, as long as one allows for Rob Walker's Delage in the hands of Tony Rolt, as usual. Five E.R.As will compete, with Peter Walker in the new E-type and Gerard, Harrison, Graham Whitehead and Shawe-Taylor in their regular cars.

In addition both the Altas are to run, Crossley and Kelly being the drivers, while Charles Mortimer will pilot an H.W.M in his first international appearance. This being the car driven recently at Montlhery by Abecassis.

That Whitehead's Ferrari would be on pole position was virtually certain and so it proved. The beautiful dark green machine lapped over 2 seconds quicker than the fastest of the Maseratis (Chiron) with three more 4.CLTs lining up behind the Monagasque. Surprisingly, perhaps, the quicker of these was Hampshire from de Graffenried and then Parnell. Hamilton came next with Walker an excellent 7th with the E-type. Bira who was a little disappointed to be only 9th was expecting more in the race; as was Murray, who only got his Maserati running properly right at the end of the session.

Gerard was the fastest of the older E.R.As in an excellent 8th place with Harrison's car 10th, Whitehead 13th and Shawe-Taylor 15th. Bringing up the rear, not unexpectedly, was Branca with the little Gordini. The French blue car proving to be just as difficult to drive as the cars have done all season so far.

THE RACE

If the Thinwall Ferrari had not hesitated when the flag fell, we might have seen a boring procession, comfortably led by Peter Whitehead in the green Italian machine. But it did and the result was a thrilling race that could have had a super close finish.

With the Ferrari failing to move, it was Derbyshireman David Hampshire who leapt into the lead with the dark green Maserati. The expectation was that the red horde - Chiron, Parnell, de Graffenried - would overwhelm Hampshire very quickly but this proved to be an inaccurate assessment of the situation. While Whitehead P. was carving his way through the field, Hampshire continued to pull away from the rest. By 10 laps of the 55 he was 15 seconds ahead of Chiron and by 25 laps, by which time Whitehead was up to third, the gap was over 30 seconds. It took Whitehead until lap 29 to pass Chiron but his progress in reducing the gap to the Maserati was not as rapid as expected. Indeed, Hampshire virtually held the gap steady until lap 45, but then Whitehead really begun to motor. From 32 seconds with 10 laps to go the Ferrari begun to take 3-4 seconds a lap from the Maserati. On lap 48 Whitehead went round under 1 minute 57 seconds, easily the fastest lap of the entire meeting, but then, trying just too hard, he crashed at the final corner on lap 49 and that, as they say, was that.

So David Hampshire became a delighted and most unexpected winner. Louis Chiron had stayed on or near the pace until the last few laps, after which he eased off to finish a creditable second, though almost one and a half minutes behind the winner. Third place was contested all afternoon by a number of drivers but eventually, following the retirements of Parnell (broken front suspension), Bira (brakes) and Hamilton (spun off) it came down to a battle between de Graffenried's Maserati and the splendid E.R.A E-type of Peter Walker. It looked as though Walker had the place sewn up but Toulo finally found some speed right at the end, recording the second fastest race lap, and he passed the E.R.A to make it a 4.CLT one-two-three.

The attrition rate was very high, with only eight cars running at the finish. Cuth Harrison took 5th in his E.R.A following Gerard's retirement in a similar car. Charles Mortimer in the H.W.M kept going solidly for 6th, beating Tony Rolt's Delage with Brian Shawe-Taylor bringing up the rear after a fraught 51 laps in his recalcitrant E.R.A.

Here is the full result of the 55 lap race:


   1.     5 D. HAMPSHIRE MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 52. 24'49
   2.     1 L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 53. 51'12
   3.     2 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT         54 laps
   4.   16 P. WALKER E.R.A E-type         54 laps
   5.   11 C. HARRISON E.R.A D-type         53 laps
   6.   21 C. MORTIMER H.W.M         52 laps
   7.   17 T. ROLT DELAGE 15S.8         52 laps
   8.   15 B. SHAWE-TAYLOR E.R.A D-type         51 laps
Fastest lap:   P. WHITEHEAD,   THINWALL Spl FERRARI 375,   on lap 48,   1.56'90
Retired:
      9 P. WHITEHEAD THINWALL Spl. FERRARI 375         48 laps
      3 B. BIRA OSCA         42 laps
    10 R. GERARD E.R.A D-type         34 laps
      7 D. HAMILTON TALBOT LAGO T.26         25 laps
    18 G. CROSSLEY ALTA         15 laps
      4 R. PARNELL MASERATI 4.CLT         14 laps
    19 J. KELLY ALTA         12 laps
      8 A. BRANCA GORDINI 15           9 laps
    12 G. WHITEHEAD E.R.A D-type           4 laps
      6 D. MURRAY MASERATI 4.CLT           2 laps

JERSEY JOTTINGS:

  • Would Whitehead have caught and passed Hampshire? Maybe, but we will never know for sure.
  • Reg Parnell was shocked when he braked for the hairpin on lap 15 and saw front wheels heading off in all directions.
  • At least Maserati have finally won a race. Their first this season - albeit with a GREEN car.
  • The E-type E.R.A was not spectacularly quick but it trundles along so steadily it must be a joy to drive.
  • The extra speed that David Murray found in his Maserati at the end of practice caught the Scotsman out very early in the race.
  • At last Prince Bira has the OSCA working properly. The Prince lost a certain third place when he lost his brakes. The remedy seems to be in
        the sizes of tyres used on the car. Larger rears equals much better handling.
  • Both Harrison's and Gerard's E.R.As went very nicely. Gerard lost 5th when a magneto wire came loose.
  • The same cannot be said of Graham Whitehead's car which was hard to drive and retired early or Shawe-Taylor's which was
        a complete nightmare from start to finish.
  • Following modifications to the rear end Branca had the Gordini running much better, only to retire quite early with a broken chassis.
  • The circus now moves to Bordeaux for the Grand Prix by the water. The entry has no works cars from Alfa or Ferrari but the Thinwall
        Ferrari will do battle once again with some Talbots and some Maseratis. H.W.M are sending two cars for Macklin and Chiron!

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