18.10.13

PESCARA GRAND PRIX

FAGIOLI WINS ONE FOR ALFA ROMEO

FOR THE SECOND TIME THIS SEASON IT WAS NOT THE EXPECTED ALFA ROMEO THAT TRIUMPHED AROUND THE HILLS OF THE LONG EASTERN ITALIAN CIRCUIT. LUIGI FAGIOLI LED ALL THE WAY AFTER HIS ILLUSTRIOUS TEAM-MATE JUAN FANGIO MADE A VERY POOR START AND SPENT FIVE LAPS WORKING HIS WAY UP TO SECOND. ONCE THERE, THE ARGENTINE SETTLED DOWN TO BACK UP THE VETERAN ITALIAN, THE TWO CRUISING HOME WELL AHEAD OF THE BEST OF THE FERRARIS.

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ENTRY

The Pescara circuit is 16 miles long, starting down in the town and then winding up into the hills through a very twisty section before returning to the start along two long fast straights, linked by a very tight right-hand corner.

An excellent entry of seventeen cars arrived on the coast of south-eastern Italy where the organisers saw fit to jumble up the car numbers for reasons best known to themselves - maybe. Five blue Talbots arrived from France to be driven by Rosier, Etancelin, Giraud-Cabantous, Levegh and Guy Mairesse. One green car helped to break up the probable red domination; this was the Thinwall Ferrari to be driven by one of its regular drivers, Peter Whitehead.

Alfa Romeo decided to give Farina a rest following his successful sojourn in Ireland so Fangio and Fagioli were to handle the all-conquering cars from Turin. Ranged against the 158s were Ascari, Villoresi, Gonzales and a rare appearance by the rarely seen Giovanni Bracco in factory Ferraris and the usual collection of privateer Maseratis driven by Chiron, Schell, de Graffenried, Toni Branca and Scotland's own David Murray with his green version.

PRACTICE

With a circuit as long as Pescara, the gaps between the drivers in practice looked enormous and Fangio's pole position was eleven seconds quicker than Ascari in 2nd place. Rosier did extremely well to lap just a couple of seconds slower than the Italian's Ferrari. Fagioli took it very easy and lapped half a minute slower than team-mate Fangio, ending up in 6th place behind Gonzales' Ferrari and Chiron with the quickest of the Maseratis. The third of the works Ferraris was not going terribly well and Villoresi was a frustrated 9th almost three quarters of a minute away from pole position.

Bracco in the fourth works Ferrari was only two seconds slower than Villoresi although both these two were behind the green Ferrari of Whitehead. The remaining seven runners were a mix of Maseratis and Talbots with, perhaps surprisingly, Etancelin proved to be the slowest of all, his Talbot beginning to look rather tired.

Here is the full list of practice times:

1.
32
J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158
10.37'61
2.
6
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
10.48'58
3.
26
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
10.50'58
4.
10
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
10.59'06
5.
16
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
11.00'56
6.
34
L. FAGIOLI ALFA ROMEO 158
11.06'54
7.
18
LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
11.13'53
8.
24
P. WHITEHEAD FERRARI 375
11.14'03
9.
22
L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375
11.19'02
10.
30
G. BRACCO FERRARI 375
11.21'01
11.
4
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
11.22'01
12.
14
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
11.25'50
13.
2
G. MAIRESSE TALBOT LAGO T.26
11.27'50
14.
12
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
11.28'50
15.
28
D. MURRAY MASERATI 4.CLT
11.33'98
16.
20
A. BRANCA MASERATI 4.CLT
11.49'95
17.
8
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26
11.51'95

THE RACE

It would have been easy to think that the Alfa Romeo that came through at the end of lap 1 in the lead was Fangio, after all, he had started from the front row. However, the Argentine had made a very poor start whereas his veteran team mate got away splendidly and came by with a couple of seconds' advantage over the Ferraris of Gonzales and Ascari. Fangio was way down the field but making progress and by quarter distance - 4 laps - he was up to 5th behind Chiron but was over 40 seconds behind his team mate who led Gonzales by 8 seconds. Rosier too had not started well but unlike Fangio, his car was not running well and he never made any forward progress, spending the whole race in 6th or 7th position. Pescara clearly did not suit Talbots because as well as Rosier's troubles, both Levegh and Giraud-Cabantous struggled at the back of the field and Etancelin gave up at the end of lap 5 with his car allegedly undrivable.

Fangio settled into his usual fast pace and by half distance he was past Chiron and the two Ferraris into second place. The gap to Fagioli was reduced to 26 seconds by lap 8 and down to just 7 with four laps to go but at that point, realising that this was not a championship race, Juan Manuel settled for second place and simply kept pace with the excellent Fagioli who set the fastest race lap on lap 15, 5 seconds quicker than Fangio's pole position time. Gonzales and Ascari were left far behind but both drove solid races in 3rd and 4th places. The cars had spread out on the long circuit and Chiron, trundling in 5th was three and a half minutes behind the winner and well over a minute behind Ascari. Schell got ahead of Rosier while a very low key drive by Villoresi saw him finish 5 seconds behind Rosier in 8th place. Bracco's race ended on lap 2 with a minor accident and the other three retirements were all Maseratis, braking problems for Murray and de Graffenried and engine trouble for Branca.

Here is the full result of the 16 lap race:

1.
34
L. FAGIOLI ALFA ROMEO 158
2.55.11'53
2.
32
J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158
2.55.18'52
3.
10
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
2.56.56'31
4.
6
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
2.57.25'74
5.
16
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
2.58.44'57
6.
12
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
3.00.25'85
7.
26
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
3.01.50'16
8.
22
L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375
3.01.55'15
9.
24
P. WHITEHEAD FERRARI 375
3.03.50'40
10.
2
G. MAIRESSE TALBOT LAGO T.26
3.06.53'00
11.
18
LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
3.06.58'99
12.
4
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
3.08.47'25

Fastest lap:   L. FAGIOLI, ALFA ROMEO 159   on lap 15,   10.32'12

Retired:
14
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
12 laps
28
D. MURRAY MASERATI 4.CLT
10 laps
8
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26
5 laps
20
A. BRANCA MASERATI 4.CLT
3 laps
30
G. BRACCO FERRARI 375
1 lap

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