21.2.13

GRAND PRIX des 24 heures du MANS - Nantes

ROSIER TOO GOOD FOR CHIRON

A rare outing for Louis Chiron in a Talbot Lago ended with a strong second place behind Rosier's similar car. Despite leading early on the Monagasque Louis had no answer to the speed of the French Louis.

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This Formula 1 race was a one-off, run in 1946, allegedly to raise funds for the rebuilding of the Le Mans circuit following its being left in a poor state at the end of WW.2. I have been able to include some of the drivers who actually took part in that race, although the cars they are driving may be different to those which they handled in 1946. However, I have left out some of the more obscure competitors and have added some others to make a reasonable sized entry.

ENTRY

The entry for this event was, not surprisingly, predominantly French. The improving Gordinis were to be driven by their regular trio of Trintignant, Manzon and Simon. These cars have undergone considerable development recently and the lowering, by a considerable distance, of the centre of gravity has seen their handling totally transformed. Five blue Talbots arrived with Louis Chiron being the only non-regular, the man from Monaco having decided to give his unreliable Maserati a rest in the hope of actually finishing a race for a change. The other Talbot drivers were Rosier, Etancelin, Levegh and Giraud-Cabantous. The pre-war contingent was as seen before with Pozzi in the large Delahaye and Louveau and Achard in the much prettier Delages.

That left just three cars from outside the Republique; regular attendee, Bira, brought his OSCA out for another run - this car, like the Gordinis, having had some work done to make it more stable. Raymond Mays was a very welcome visitor from across La Manche with his black E.R.A and the final car on the entry was a 4.CLT Maserati in the hands of Comte George Raphaël Béthenod de Montbressieux, who fortunately chooses to race under the name of 'Raph'.

After practice ended there was a very pleasant surprise for the organisers of the event when it was announced that Alfa Romeo had made a request to be allowed to enter a car in the race. There was no objection from those already in the race and it was with a huge degree of surprise that the car in question turned out NOT to be one of the regular type 158 cars that have been racing all season but instead Jean-Pierre Wimille arrived to drive the unique and never-raced rear-engined type 512 car that was built to challenge the German domination in the late 1930s but which was hidden away when the war intervened. The car, like the Gordinis, has a 1.5 litre supercharged engine but in the case of the Alfa, it is a V.12.

PRACTICE

Rosier and Chiron dominated the practice sessions with their Talbots with Rosier being the quicker of the two in the first session but Chiron went quicker than him in the second. Pole position remained with Rosier though because the first session times were quicker than the second. Although Manzon's Gordini was two seconds slower than Rosier it was delightful to see the little car on the front row of the grid. In truth, given the problems they had earler in the season, this was an almost unbelieveable achievement. Bira had a poor first practice but some more modifications saw the Siamese Prince move up to 4th on the grid, alongside Giraud, who was having one of his better weekends. Raph, Levegh and Simon made up row three from Trintignant and Etancelin while the four pre-war cars were, as expected, at the back although none were disgraced by their lap times.

As stated earlier, the Alfa Romeo would start from the back of the grid having not practised in the official sessions although Wimille was allowed a few laps the check that things were working properly, which they were so there was a certain amount of anticipation with regard to this unusual red car on the back row at the start.

Here is the full list of practice times:

1.
14
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
2.11'00
2.
22
L. CHIRON TALBOT LAGO T.26
2.11'14
3.
6
R. MANZON SIMCA GORDINI 15
2.13'08
4.
2
B. BIRA OSCA
2.15'68
5.
28
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
2.15'81
6.
12
'RAPH' MASERATI 4.CLT
2.16'23
7.
18
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
2.17'50
8.
8
A. SIMON SIMCA GORDINI 15
2.17'73
9.
4
M. TRINTIGNANT SIMCA GORDINI 15
2.17'87
10.
16
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26
2.18'45
11.
24
H. LOUVEAU DELAGE D6.70
2.20'03
12.
26
J. ACHARD DELAGE D6.70
2.20'47
13.
10
R. MAYS E.R.A B-type
2.20'48
14.
20
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
2.22'97
15.
30
J-P. WIMILLE ALFA ROMEO 512
NO TIME

THE RACE

A quick start by Chiron saw him grab the lead from Rosier and the Monagasque held that lead for the first 10 laps but he was unable to pull away and Rosier slipped by on lap 11 into a lead he was never to be in danger of losing. Chiron hung on well for around 20 laps but eventually accepted the inevitable and drifted away to finish a very comfortable second but almost three quarters of a minute adrift of the winner. In truth it had been a fairly serene ride for Rosier who never looked in any trouble throughout the race. Raph made a tremendous start and got up to third place for a while, ahead of the two blue cars of Bira and Manzon. Bira got ahead of him on lap 15 but Raph had a fairly big crash on lap 22 as he attempted to hold off the splendidly nippy Gordini. This left Manzon in fourth place but he was unable to challenge Bira who sped away to an excellent third place, unlapped by the winner. It was just reward for the team who have put so much effort into making the OSCA work.

Wimille got away very well from his back row grid position and disposed of the cars that were just ahead of him on the grid fairly easily. A couple of early retirements (Etancelin and Louveau) enable Jean-Pierre to reach seventh place very quickly, which became sixth after Raph's retirement but that was as far as he got because Giraud-Cabantous was well out of reach so the Alfa ran steadily into a very creditable sixth at the finish. Trintignant retired his Gordini and Simon slipped back in his, so Raymond Mays found himself up in seventh place as early as lap 18 but Wimille was right behind him and soon passed the E.R.A but again, Raph's departure moved him up and seventh was a very satisfactory result for Mays. After Louveau's retirement a tussle ensued between Achard's Delage and Pozzi's Delahaye which went in favour of the bigger car as Achard struggled with all sorts of problems, finishing three laps adrift of Rosier.

Here is the full result of the 45 lap race:

1.
14
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.42.57'42
2.
22
L. CHIRON TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.43.41'25
3.
2
B. BIRA OSCA
1.45.02'40
4.
6
R. MANZON SIMCA GORDINI 15
44 laps
5.
28
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
44 laps
6.
30
J-P. WIMILLE ALFA ROMEO 512
43 laps
7.
10
R. MAYS E.R.A B-type
43 laps
8.
8
A. SIMON SIMCA GORDINI 15
43 laps
9.
20
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
43 laps
10.
26
J. ACHARD DELAGE D6.70
42 laps

Fastest lap:   L. ROSIER, TALBOT LAGO T.26   on lap 35,   2.13'94

Retired:
18
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
35 laps
12
'RAPH' MASERATI 4.CLT
21 laps
4
M. TRINTIGNANT SIMCA GORDINI 15
15 laps
16
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26
4 laps
24
H. LOUVEAU DELAGE D6.70
3 laps

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