17th September 2010

GRAND PRIX de ROUSILLON, Perpignan

BLUE IS THE COLOUR

Another delightful French road circuit is next up on the calendar. This race is a two heat affair with 50 laps in each heat.

ENTRY & PRACTICE

Only eleven cars for this event, six of them Maserati 4.CLTs and five French cars - three Talbots and two Gordinis. Only three of the Maseratis are red! De Graffenried drives his regular car, its engine having been rebuilt since the failure at Bordeaus, while two newcomers also habdle Maseratis. Villoresi is not a newcomer per se, but it is his first appearance this season not driving a works Ferrari. The other red 4.CLT is to be driven by motor-cycle champion Nello Pagani in his first race of the season. Then there are three blue Masers, too. Two of them have yellow bonnets and are entered by the Argentine team with Fangio in a brand new one and another newcomer, Benedicto Campos in the car Fangio drove in Paris. Prince Bira has temporarily given up on the OSCA and has brought another brand new Maserati to this race, hoping to be much more compertitive than heretofore with the big OSCA.

The three Talbot-Lagos are for Sommer, Louveau and Levegh while Trintignant and Manzon will grapple with the Gordinis yet again - Simon having been given the weekend off, probably much to his delight.

The dominance of the Maseratis came as a slight surprise in practice because so far this year they have struggled to beat the best Talbots, having failed to beat Talbot in the races that did not include any Ferraris. However, here in southern France the Maserati horde filled the first five places on the grid with Fangio, Villoresi and Bira annexing the front row, with just 0.7 seconds between the three. De Graffenried and Campos make up row two with the two quicker Talbots at least getting ahead of Pagani on row three. As usual the Gordinis brought up the rear but Trintignant was only a second behind Levegh, though nine seconds away from Fangio's pole time.

THE RACE

HEAT 1

Total domination by Juan Fangio was probably expected and the Bandy One did not disappoint. Bira stayed fairly close for half of the race but then as he seemed to slow down a little Fangio went quicker and the margin at the end was almost half a minute. Villoresi had run second early on but had a nasty crash on lap 17 and the Italian was not able to start in Heat 2. Behind Bira there was a decent dice between Campos and de Graffenried which lastest almost all race until the Argentine pulled away, leaving Toulo to be lapped by the winner on the last but one lap.

Pagani was not able to challenge the Talbots that bested him in practice, so he finished 7th but the surprise was that Louveau overtook Sommer quite early on and stayed in 5th until the end. Trintignant was the only other finisher, driving the new chassied Gordini that was brought to the circuit after practice. His lap times were substantially quicker than he managed in practice but the car is still a nightmare - just not quite as bad a nightmare as it was before.

Here is the full result of Heat 1 - 50 laps:

   1.     4 J. FANGIO MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 14. 09'92
   2.   10 B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 14. 38'00
   3.     6 B. CAMPOS MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 15. 23'46
   4.   12 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT         49 laps
   5.   22 H. LOUVEAU TALBOT LAGO T.26         49 laps
   6.     2 R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26         49 laps
   7.   14 N. PAGANI MASERATI 4.CLT         49 laps
   8.   16 M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15         47 laps
Fastest lap:   J. FANGIO, MASERATI 4.CLT,   on lap 37,   1.26'34
Retired:
    24 P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26         43 laps
      8 L. VILLORESI MASERATI 4.CLT         16 laps
    18 R. MANZON GORDINI 15         11 laps

HEAT 2

Fangio is a cool customer! Prince Bira found some extra speed between the heats and rocketed off from the start of Heat 2 intent on wiping out the 28 second deficit from the first race. The lap speeds went up and up as the two pale blue Maseratis zoomed around the twisty circuit - one trying to pull away and the other doing his best not to slip too far behind. Bira managed to pull out almost 26 seconds at one point but Fangio held it there and reeled him in a little towards the end, finishing just 23 seconds adrift for an overall victory margin of exactly 5 seconds. Such was Bira's pace in the second heat that the overall time for the 50 laps was 40 seconds faster than Heat 1.

These was an equally exciting battle for third, though in a different way. Campos had finished third in Heat 1, unlapped, whereas de Graffenried was lapped. The tables were turned in Heat 2 as the Swiss went extremely well to finish third on the road while Campos, who was fourth was himself lapped this time. So aggregate times would determine the overall third place finished and it was the Argentine who prevailed by just under 8 seconds.

The only other finisher was Louveau who was a close fifth behind Campos to finish in that position, while the second heat saw engine problems for Pagani - very early on - and Sommer (who had run third early in the heat), while both Gordinis eventually gave up the unequal struggle.

Here is the full result of Heat 2 - 50 laps:

   1.   10 B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 13. 30'74
   2.     4 J. FANGIO MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 13. 53'81
   3.   12 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT     1. 15. 03'33
   4.     6 B. CAMPOS MASERATI 4.CLT         49 laps
   5.   22 H. LOUVEAU TALBOT LAGO T.26         49 laps
Fastest lap:   J. FANGIO, MASERATI 4.CLT,   on lap 49,   1.25'98
Retired:
    18 R. MANZON GORDINI 15         33 laps
      2 R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26         29 laps
    16 M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15         28 laps
    16 M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15           4 laps

OVERALL RESULT 100 laps - (2 x 50 lap heats)

   1.     4 J. FANGIO MASERATI 4.CLT     2. 28. 03'73
   2.   10 B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT     2. 28. 08'74
   3.     6 B. CAMPOS MASERATI 4.CLT         99 laps
   4.   12 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT         99 laps
   5.   22 H. LOUVEAU TALBOT LAGO T.26         99 laps
    2 R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26         78 laps
  16 M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15         75 laps
  14 N. PAGANI MASERATI 4.CLT         53 laps
  18 R. MANZON GORDINI 15         44 laps
  24 P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26         43 laps
    8 L. VILLORESI MASERATI 4.CLT         16 laps

Fastest lap:   J. FANGIO, MASERATI 4.CLT,   on lap 49 - Heat 2,   1.25'98

PERPIGNAN POINTS:

  • A splendid race between the two blue Maseratis. Bira really made Fangio work hard.
  • What a pity Villoresi crashed so early in the race. It could well have been a three-way battle.
  • I think we will not see the Bira OSCA for a considerable time.
  • De Graffenried was bitterly disappointed to lose third by such a small margin. Toulo thought he had dione enough.
  • Sommer had the Talbot running really well in Heat 2 but the engine went right off song.
  • Whereas after running really well in Heat 1, Pagani's motor went wrong right from the start of Heat 2.
  • Despite a new and allegedly improved chassis that arrived in time for the race, Trintignant did not find much improvement.
  • And so, at last, we arrive at the first World Championship event - the British Grand Prix at Silverstone comes up next.

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