27th May 2010

ROUEN GRAND PRIX

ANOTHER WIN FOR STIRLING

After quite a long gap the F.2 cars from 1958 are out for the penultimate race in their season; a 40 lap event around the magnificent Rouen circuit with it's plunge downhill through the right and left bends to the tight hairpin at Nouveau Monde, then the climb back up the side of the valley to the two fast straights before the final corner.

Apart from Behra in his eponymous Porsche-engined car, a central seat RSK Porsche for Gerard Laureau and Cabianca in the peculiar OSCA, the rest of the 22 car entry consists of British cars - 15 Coopers and 4 Lotuses. All the top Cooper runners are here, including three cars from the factory (including McLaren's semi works car), two Walker cars and two from B.R.P for the first time, with young Chris Bristow joining Lewis-Evans. There are also cars from Tommy Atkins and Alan Brown's outfits with additional cars for Gendebien, Lewis, Schell, Parnell, Gibson and Henry Taylor.

With Cliff Allison announcing his move to Ferrari for 1959 Lotus have replaced him in one of their Sixteens with Scotsman Innes Ireland who gets his first F.2 race joining regular Graham Hill. There are also two Lotus Twelves, a factory car for Alan Stacey and also a car for Bruce Halford.

In the photograph of the entry, you may notice that some cars from the same team are not numbered consecutively. Don't ask me why - ask the Rouen organisers. I based my numbering on those used at the real 1959 F.2 race at the circuit.

The first practice session took place this morning in cool conditions and it was Roy Salvadori who took the honours, lapping half a second quicker than Stirling Moss. All the usual suspects were well up the list but the sight of Laureau's Porsche in 8th place will come as a surprise to many; the little car positively flying down the hill to Nouveau Monde and showing good traction back up the hill on the return section.

There will be work to do in the Parnell area of the paddock as Tim's engine poured out blue smoke after a few laps and may need replacing. Debutant Innes Ireland was slightly quicker than team-mate Hill although both works Lotuses were bested by Bruce Halford in his older Twelve.

Cabianca was out very early and struggled for traction on a cold circuit. Expect better from the strange red car in second practice.

Final practice was run this morning and Roy Salvadori had to dig deep to retain his pole position as six drivers bettered his time from the first session. But dig he did, clocking fastest time on his final lap, no less than 3.2 seconds quicker than he managed yesterday. He will share the front row with the two Rob Walker drivers - Trintignant lapping a mite faster than Moss.

Coopers fill seven of the top eight places with only Behra, in 6th spoiling the clean sweep. But the times are very close in the mid-field with six drivers covered by just over a second.

Tim Parnell did not appear at all but the team think they have solved the problem so the tall Englishman will start from the back row.

THE RACE

In simple terms Stirling Moss led this race from flag to flag with Graham Hill second all the way. And so it was but the Londoner in the Lotus made SCM work very hard for this one. Stirling's consistency of pace in the middle part of the race drew him away from the Lotus, eventually opening a gap of over 20 seconds with 10 laps to go but then Hill really got down to it and reduced the gap significantly with fastest lap after fastest lap. The Walker Cooper though, seemed to be in control of the situation and ran out winner by almost 7 seconds. To Hill went the kudos of fastest lap and a thoroughly well deserved place on the podium.

Third place, however, changed regularly throughout the 40 laps. It was held at various times by Brabham, Trintignant and Salvadori, the latter looking as though he had it sewn up until the Cooper's front suspension collapsed just 5 laps from the end. Trintignant made a very poor start, rushed back from sixth place on lap 8 to third by lap 15 but then slipped back again, leaving Jack Brabham to take third, albeit a whopping 70 plus seconds behind Hill.

Bruce McLaren drove his usual steady race and was rewarded with fourth place and a seat in the F.1 team for next season. A place in the top six went to a hard charging Jack Lewis whose Cooper just got better and better the longer the race went on and eventually rose from an early 13th to pass Trint a couple of laps from the end.

Amongst those who never made the finish were Behra and Lewis-Evans, both of whom should have been front runners, but both of whom left the track in the first few laps; as did Laureau with the Porsche.

Word should be said for the three debutants, two who had not raced in F.2 before and one who had never raced in Europe; Innes Ireland, Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey all had excellent races, finishing respectively 7th, 9th and 10th.

HERE IS THE FULL RACE RESULT:

   1.     2 S. MOSS COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 39. 38'27
   2.   16 G. HILL LOTUS CLIMAX 16     1. 39. 44'88
   3.   12 J. BRABHAM COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 40. 57'46
   4.   20 B. MCLAREN COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 41. 35'36
   5.   40 J. LEWIS COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 42. 00'21
   6.     6 M. TRINTIGNANT COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 42. 07'54
   7.   22 I. IRELAND LOTUS CLIMAX 16     1. 42. 07'89
   8.   46 I. BURGESS COOPER CLIMAX T.45     1. 42. 23'09
   9.   26 A. STACEY LOTUS CLIMAX 12         39 laps
 10.   28 C. BRISTOW COOPER CLIMAX T.45         39 laps
 11.   14 G. CABIANCA OSCA         39 laps
 12.   38 H. TAYLOR COOPER CLIMAX T.45         39 laps
 13.   44 T. PARNELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45         38 laps
Fastest lap:   G. HILL,   LOTUS CLIMAX 16,   on lap 37,   2.24'474

Retired:
  30 H. SCHELL COOPER CLIMAX T.45         37 laps
  10 R. SALVADORI COOPER CLIMAX T.45         35 laps
  32 B. HALFORD LOTUS CLIMAX 12         28 laps
  42 D. GIBSON COOPER CLIMAX T.45         10 laps
  18 M. GREGORY COOPER CLIMAX T.45           2 laps
    4 S. LEWIS-EVANS COOPER CLIMAX T.45           2 laps
  36 G. LAUREAU PORSCHE RSK           1 lap
    8 J. BEHRA BEHRA PORSCHE           1 lap
  24 O. GENDEBIEN COOPER CLIMAX T.45   did not start

ROUEN RUMBLES:

  • Upon arriving at Rouen, Lotus opined that Hill would have a good chance of winning. They weren't far wrong.
  • The French crowd were stunned when Behra failed to come round on lap 2 - Jeannot left the road at the Virage du Gresil.
  • Then Trintignant had a poor race, which depressed them even more.
  • Jack Lewis was probably the Man of the Race. His fastest lap was second only to Hill.
  • Gendebien's transmission failed on the warm-up lap so Olivier did not even get to the grid.
  • Stacey and Bristow fought a race long battle. Huge irony there for motor sporting history buffs.
  • Innes Ireland did enough to show he is worthy of an F.1 drive with Lotus in 1959.
  • Seeing the front suspension of a Cooper fall apart was a real shock - especially to Salvadori, although the works Coopers were beaten
        out of sight by Moss and Hill. Cooper had no real explanation of their lack of competitiveness.
  • The very last race of the 1958 season will be the F.2 Prix de Paris at Montlhery.

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