1.10.2013

GRAN PREMIO di SIRACUSA

GREGORY ALMOST SPOILS TRINTIGNANT'S HAT-TRICK

FOR 70 LAPS OF THE 90 MASTEN GREGORY GAVE MAURICE TRINTIGNANT A VERY TOUGH RACE INDEED BUT THE AMERICAN EVENTUALLY SPUN OUT OF THE LEAD LEAVING THE LITTLE FRENCHMAN TO SCORE HIS THIRD CONSECUTIVE F.2 RACE VICTORY BY MORE THAN A CLEAR LAP.

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ENTRY

A select 15 cars assembled for the long 90 lap grind around the picturesque circuit in the south-west corner of France. Pau is a circuit that has remained unchanged since the pre WW2 races around its streets and as such it may be unique amongst European venues.

As always, Coopers dominated the entry with only three of the cars being built anywhere else but Surbiton in Surrey. Bob Hicks and Marcus Niven represented the Lotus marque with their privately owned car; a Sixteen for Hicks and a venerable old Twelve for newcomer Niven. It was rather disappointing to see no factory Lotuses as the new Eighteen would seem to have been very suitable for racing on the tight little track. Although originally entered in an Equipe National Belge Cooper Olivier Gendebien arrived to drive a quasi-works Porsche 718 which retained his E.N.B entry status.

Paul Frere and Lucien Bianchi were present with the Coopers from the Belgian equipe while French-entered Coopers were there for Jo Schlesser, Bernard Collomb and Maurice Trintignant who came to the race with a 100% record in F.2 so far this season. Masten Gregory brought a Scuderia Centro Sud Cooper T.51 with a Maserati engine while another European competitor was German driver Wolfgang Seidel with his white Scuderia Colonia car. The remaining five Coopers had made the long, long drive down the whole of western France to take part in this prestigious of races. Jack Brabham brought his own car, as did Jack Lewis and Tony Marsh. Ron Flockhart was on hand to drive the Alan Brown car, in works colours of course and D.R.W Engineering's car was handled by John Campbell-Jones.

PRACTICE

At the end of the first practice session you could easily have been fooled into thinking that there were no other competitive cars at Pau other than Coopers. They filled the top eight positions on the timing sheet with, unsurprisingly, Trintignant's name at the top. Brabham was a close second but these two were well clear of the rest led by Flockhart from Lewis, Marsh, Collomb - going very nicely - and Gregory who was playing himself in gently with the red Centro Sud car. Bianchi's yellow car was next with the best of the non Coopers appearing in 9th place. Against expectations this was not Gendebien with the Porsche but Bob Hicks who was going very nicely indeed with his Lotus. Gendebien was down in 12th only a blink ahead of Niven's old Lotus which was quite a sizeable amount ahead of Seidel who was having a torrid time with the white Cooper.

As final practice got under way it was Masten Gregory who began to set the tongues wagging. The Maserati-engined car began to set very quick lap times indeed and quickly began to lap faster than Maurice had done in the earlier session. Conversely, Brabham was finding it hard to go much quicker than he had earlier, finding himself pushed off the front row of the grid both by Gregory and Flockhart, who improved his time by more than two seconds to pip Brabham by just 9/100ths of a second. It was left to Trintignant to try to retake pole position from Gregory, which he duly did by a little over half a second. Jo Schlesser found over three seconds and leaped up to fifth. The middle of the grid was very tight with less than two seconds covering no less than seven drivers. The big loser was Lewis who only shaved a fraction off his earlier time and slipped from 4th down to 11th. Big gains were made by the two Belgians Frere and Gendebien both of who moved up onto the third row.

Like Lewis, Collomb slipped down the list and Niven and Seidel, occupying the back row of the grid, were well off the pace. Seidel was extremely disappointed with his car and seriously considered packing up going home but he decided to stay - start money being an important factor.

HERE IS THE FULL GRID ORDER FOR THE 590 LAP RACE:

   1.
2
M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.34'01
   2.
8
M. GREGORY COOPER MASERATI T.51
1.34'60
   3.
10
R. FLOCKHART COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.36'69
   4.
4
J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.36'79
   5.
26
J. SCHLESSER COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.37'61
   6.
22
T. MARSH COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.38'09
   7.
14
P. FRERE COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1.38'38
   8.
6
O. GENDEBIEN PORSCHE 718
1.38'65
   9.
28
J. CAMPBELL-JONES COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.39'02
 10.
12
R. HICKS LOTUS CLIMAX 16
1.39'29
 11.
20
J. LEWIS COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.39'59
 12.
32
B. COLLOMB COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.39'98
 13.
16
L. BIANCHI COOPER CLIMAX T.51
1.40'12
 14.
36
M. NIVEN LOTUS CLIMAX 12
1.43'24
 15.
18
W. SEIDEL COOPER CLIMAX T.45
1.45'67
THE RACE

Thanks to Masten Gregory, the Pau Grand Prix was a tremendous race. Geogory took the lead at the start with Trintignant close behind, ahead of Gendebien who made a great start from the third row. Brabham was 4th but got into his stride after ten laps or so and move threateningly up to second ahead of both Trintignant and Gendebien. Sadly for Jack the Cooper lost its brakes at the top of the long hill up towards the park and the car hit the barrier putting Jack out of yet another F.2 race. Gendebien was a solid third for the whole of the 90 laps but was unable stay with the two Coopers up front. Gregory drew well away from Trintignant as the race moved into its middle laps, the American getting away to the tune of 25 seconds by lap 50but thereafter Maurice began to reel in the Italian-entered car. By lap 60 the gap had come down to 5 seconds and just a single second on lap 70. The pressure was really on Masten and it told on lap 72 when he spun out of the race in the big bend by the Parc Beaumont. By this time the pair had almost caught third place Gendebien and Trintignant lapped the Porsche before the end.

Marsh and Lewis ran 4th and 5th after Brabham's retirement and moved up to 3rd and 4th when Gregory dropped out, which was an excellent result for both drivers. Flockhart slipped back, unable to maintain his high grid position, finishing three laps behind the winner. Both Lotuses finished although Seidel finally found a bit of speed in his Cooper and managed to get ahead of Niven. Poor Schlesser had a very short day because his car stuttered away from the grid, did three terribly slow laps and retired with a serious engine problem.

A few old cynics were heard to mutter that it was just as well Gregory didn't finish because somebody may have spotted that Centro Sud had 'accidentally' brought an F.1 car to Pau instead of an F.2 car. There are no grounds for this view.

HERE IS THE FULL RESULT OF THE 90 LAP RACE:

   1.
2
M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.45   2. 26. 56'35
   2.
6
O. GENDEBIEN PORSCHE 718      89 laps
   3.
22
T. MARSH COOPER CLIMAX T.45      89 laps
   4.
20
J. LEWIS COOPER CLIMAX T.45      88 laps
   5.
10
R. FLOCKHART COOPER CLIMAX T.45      87 laps
   6.
16
L. BIANCHI COOPER CLIMAX T.51      87 laps
   7.
28
J. CAMPBELL-JONES COOPER CLIMAX T.45      87 laps
   8.
12
R. HICKS LOTUS CLIMAX 16      86 laps
   9.
18
W. SEIDEL COOPER CLIMAX T.45      85 laps
 10.
36
M. NIVEN LOTUS CLIMAX 12      84 laps
Fastest lap:   M. TRINTIGNANT,   COOPER CLIMAX T.45,   on lap 28,   1.34'65
Retired:
 
8
M. GREGORY COOPER MASERATI T.51      71 laps
 
34
B. COLLOMB COOPER CLIMAX T.45      51 laps
 
4
J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.45      25 laps
 
26
J. SCHLESSER COOPER CLIMAX T.45      3 laps
 
14
P. FRERE COOPER CLIMAX T.51      3 laps

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