18th June 2010

PRIX de PARIS, MONTLHÈRY

A STROLL IN PARIS FOR JACK

Finally, we come to the very last event in my 1958 season. This is an F.2 race on the partly banked Montlhèry circuit just to the south of Paris.

A reasonable entry has been invited, although of the sixteen cars only two are not Coopers. Ivor Bueb is bringing his silver Lotus 12 and Mike Parkes is having another outing with the unusual Fry Climax.

There is some French representation within the Cooper ranks as André Guelfi will be there with his light blue car while Bernard Collomb, from Nice, has acquired himself a Cooper for this race although nobody seems to know where he got it from! Adding to the Gallic representation is the Franco-American Harry Schell in the white Cooper he has driven a few times this season. From Belgium comes Lucien Bianchi with the Equipe National Belge car. The rest of the Cooper squad is British based with cars for Brabham, McLaren, Wicken, Lewis, Marsh, Russell, Campbell-Jones, Henry Taylor along with Ian Burgess in Tommy Atkins' car and newcomer Keith Ballisat getting an outing in Colonel Dick Gibson's machine.

PRACTICE

Jack Brabham showed sensational speed in first practice, lapping no less than 3.5 seconds quicker than second man Bruce McLaren. In final practice Bruce actually bettered Jack's best from the first session, by just a couple of tenths but the Aussie responded by going even faster although only half a second quicker than his young 1959 F.1 team-mate. Ian Burgess was a good 3rd, though three seconds slower than McLaren. Thereafter, times were much closer, with Jim Russell setting 4th best time, followed by Lewis, Marsh, Bueb, Collomb and Schell. Keith Ballisat went very well in his first F.2 race and lined up 12th, with Mike Parkes beating Bianchi into last place, mainly because the Belgian's engine failed in first practice and the newly installed motor was still not running well in final practice.

THE RACE

The rate at which Brabham pulled away from the rest at the very beginning of the race was quite breathtaking. By lap 8 the Australian was 27 seconds ahead of McLaren and the race was over. The gap widened all the way through the race and the final winning margin was 1 minute 26 seconds! After a brief duel with Ian Burgess' Cooper, which retired on lap 18, dropping oil on a tight left-hander, McLaren was able to cruise into 2nd place a further 40 seconds ahead of the third place man. Into 3rd came a jubilant Harry Schell who, for once, made no mistakes and had his best race since his victory at Pau with the B.R.M many many months ago.

There were a large number of retirements, mainly due to engine problems, the two long fast straight section out of and back into the stadium area taking their toll. Burgess' oil caused George Wicken to crash, the maroon Cooper turning over but happily without serious injury to its driver, while Tony Marsh lost it on the banking and was fortunate to hit the retaining wall and avoid a flying escapade. All the other retirements were mechanical.

Mention must be made of two very creditable performances; André Guelfi found his car going as never before and he stormed past several cars, eventually reaching 5th place. He was followed home by debutant Keith Ballisat who drove the Gibson Cooper beautifully.

HERE IS THE FULL RACE RESULT:

   1.     8 J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 40. 16'63
   2.   20 B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 41. 42'39
   3.     6 H. SCHELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 42. 22'64
   4.   12 J. LEWIS COOPER CLIMAX T.45         39 laps
   5.     4 A. GUELFI COOPER CLIMAX T.45         39 laps
   6.   22 K. BALLISAT COOPER CLIMAX T.45         39 laps
   7.   28 H. TAYLOR COOPER CLIMAX T.45         38 laps
Fastest lap:   B. MCLAREN,   COOPER CLIMAX T.45,   on lap 8,   2.25'47

Retired:
    2 B. COLLOMB COOPER CLIMAX T.45         36 laps
  30 J. CAMPBELL-JONES COOPER CLIMAX T.45         33 laps
  18 T. MARSH COOPER CLIMAX T.45         33 laps
  16 I. BUEB LOTUS CLIMAX 12         26 laps
  10 G. WICKEN COOPER CLIMAX T.45         17 laps
  26 I. BURGESS COOPER CLIMAX T.45         17 laps
  14 J. RUSSELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45         14 laps
  24 L. BIANCHI COOPER CLIMAX T.45         11 laps
  32 M. PARKES FRY CLIMAX           0 laps

MONTLHÈRY MUMBLES:

  • Seeing Brabham and McLaren dominating this races bodes well for next season's F.1 where they will be team-mates.
  • It seems remarkable to note that this was Brabham's first win in F.2 this season.
  • Strange that despite walking away with the race, Brabham did not set fastest lap. McLaren's best was 1.3 seconds quicker than Jack's best.
  • André Guelfi found speed that he has never had before. His best lap put him fourth in the fastest lap table.
  • The Gibson Cooper still handles terribly but Ballisat coped with it very well.
  • Paris was a long way to go to break down on the first lap; that was the fate of the Fry.
  • Harry Schell's car still oversteers badly but 'Arree handled it beautifully and was delighted with third place.
  • So ends a 23 race F.2 season that occupied more than 27 months. Roll on 1959!

    Back to the general F.2 results page.

    Back to my home page.