17.1.13

GRAND PRIX de NICE

RIVIERA HOLIDAY FOR VILLORESI

This was always going to be a cruise for the two works Ferraris but most unexpectedly Ascari's car broke its transmission at exactly two-thirds distance, leaving his friend and mentor Luigi Villoresi to take a comfortable and well-deserved victory.

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Remarkably, I have been able to find cars for every one of the nineteen drivers who took part in the Grand Prix de Nice that was run in 1947. However, in several cases, the cars they are driving in my event are not the ones that they drove back in that early post-war race.

ENTRY

The presence of two full Grand Prix spec Ferraris, along with drivers Ascari and Villoresi gave this race a degree of status that it would otherwise not have had - as well as rendering the remainder of the field as probable also-rans. That said, there were enough good Maseratis and Talbot-Lagos to keep the Maranello Men honest. 4.CLT Masers were to be driven by Louis Chiron, Toulo de Graffenried and Reg Parnell (as the competitive runners) but these three were augmented by three other, shall we say, lesser competitors; these being Frenchman 'Raph' and Fred Meyer and Adolfo Mandirola who both hail from Switzerland. There was to have been another Maserati but the car entered by Kenneth Evans did not arrive. And, somewhat surprisingly, there was no sign of Bira on the entry this time.

Louis Rosier and Raymond Sommer led the Talbot runners with back-up from Giraud-Cabantous, Louveau and Levegh. One Gordini made it to the Cote d'Azure - a modified car with a heavier chassis for Maurice Trintignant to drive. Charles Pozzi brought the big Delahaye and Eugene Chaboud was on hand with one of the pretty Delages. Then there were two cars from Great Britain - E.R.As for Fred Ashmore and Leslie Brooke.

PRACTICE

Ascari and Villoresi duly planted their 375s on the front row of the grid, joined on this occasion by Chiron, who was flying in his Monagasque Maserati, the man from the Principality ending up not much more than a second slower than Ascari. Louis Rosier found his Talbot's handling much more to his liking this time and he placed 4th, to be joined on the 2nd row by the splendid Reg Parnell, whose Maserati was running beautifully. No surprise to see Sommer on row 3, nor indeed de Graffenried, but Raph did a splendid job the get up to 8th fastest.

Another excellent effort came from Trintignant with the Gordini. At long last the team seem to have got to the source of their problems and the little French car was going as never before. In contrast to this, Chaboud had a torrid time with the Delage, missing the whole of the first session with engine maladies and then having the same problems towards the end of the second session, after the car had actually gone reasonably well for a short time. The team packed the car away and went home.

Here is the full list of practice times:

1.
14
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
1.37'50
2.
12
L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375
1.37'96
3.
30
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
1.38'70
4.
4
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.39'04
5.
6
R. PARNELL MASERATI 4.CLT
1.39'43
6.
38
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.39'48
7.
16
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
1.40'90
8.
24
'RAPH' MASERATI 4.CLT
1.41'75
9.
32
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.42'36
10.
26
H. LOUVEAU TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.44'37
11.
28
M. TRINTIGNANT SIMCA GORDINI 15
1.44'93
12.
42
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
1.44'99
13.
20
F. MEYER MASERATI 4.CLT
1.45'62
14.
18
A. MANDIROLA MASERATI 4.CLT
1.46'72
15.
10
F. ASHMORE E.R.A A-type
1.47'77
16.
34
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
1.47'94
17.
22
E. CHABOUD DELAGE D6.70
1.48'86
18.
8
L. BROOKE E.R.A B-type
1.49'83
19.
2
K. EVANS MASERATI 4.CLT
WITHDRAWN

THE RACE

Ascari rocketed away from the start and built up a good lead very quickly. In contrast, Villoresi was rather slow away and found himself behind both Chiron and Rosier for the first dozen or so laps, passing the Monagasque driver on lap 12. Chiron attempted to fight back but left his braking far too late at the hairpin on lap 14 and departed the race with a damaged front end on the Maserati. Rosier held Villoresi at bay until lap 27 but then he too exited the race, spinning off and damaging a wheel, necessitating his retirement. With those two retirements went any hope of a challenge to the Ferraris, who settled down to run the last three-quarters of the race in comfort. Ascari slowed down a little once the opposition had disappeared and by lap 30 there were only 5 seconds between the two Ferraris but thereafter, Alberto pushed on and the gap grew again. Until, that is, lap 64 when the engine revs could be heard rising as Ascari accelarated away from corners, without a corresponding increase in speed. Alberto drove on for a couple more laps but eventually had to admit defeat and stop at the pits - the transmission was completely broken. This left his team-mate in a comfortable lead which he maintained through to the end of the 100 lap race.

The demise of Chiron and Rosier left us with a battle for second place between the Maseratis of Parnell and de Graffenried. For half the race Reg held the Swiss at bay but Toulo whittled away the advantage and passed the Englishman on lap 55, eventually pulling well away as Reg settled for an extremely creditable 3rd place. Another splendid dice was carried on for the whole race between Raph and Giraud-Cabantous. Yves chased the Maserati for more than half of the race but it took him until lap 63 to go by. Raph never gave up and the gap between them at the end was less than 15 seconds. Trintignant had a wonderful day with the Gordini. Although he only had Levegh behind him at the end, this does him no justice at all because he was competitive throughout the whole race and had as many as six cars trailing behind him early on. The fact that five of those retired is no fault of Maurice's.

Both E.R.As went very well and indeed, both looked like making it to the finish but then Brooke's car lost a front wheel on lap 52 and Ashmore tipped his car over in one of the slow corners by the park with only about 20 laps left - a great pity as both cars had run really well - Ashmore actually passed Levegh's Talbot shortly before his accident. As mentioned earlier, Chaboud did not start and both the Swiss amateurs retired their Maseratis, Mandirola after a low key run while Meyer actually went quite well before he left the race.

Here is the full result of the 100 lap race:

1.
12
L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375
2,53.37'09
2.
16
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
2.54.26'72
3.
6
R. PARNELL MASERATI 4.CLT
99 laps
4.
32
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
98 laps
5.
24
'RAPH' MASERATI 4.CLT
98 laps
6.
28
M. TRINTIGNANT SIMCA GORDINI 15
96 laps
7.
42
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
93 laps

Fastest lap:   A. ASCARI, FERRARI 375   on lap 37,   1. 38'54

Retired:
10
F. ASHMORE E.R.A A-type
76 laps
14
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
66 laps
8
L. BROOKE E.R.A B-type
52 laps
20
F. MEYER MASERATI 4.CLT
38 laps
18
A. MANDIROLA MASERATI 4.CLT
26 laps
4
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
26 laps
26
H. LOUVEAU TALBOT LAGO T.26
16 laps
30
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
13 laps
34
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
7 laps
38
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26
5 laps
22
E. CHABOUD DELAGE D6.70
D.N.S

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