2nd July 2010

SAN REMO GRAND PRIX
Ospedaletti

ASCARI WINS AGAIN

For the first time this season Alfa Romeo are making a serious effort to see how they stand against the might of Maranello. Admittedly with only one car but that car is to be driven by Juan Manuel Fangio - arguably their number one driver, (Farina might disagree!) The race will be run over 90 long laps around the winding streets of the small Italian coastal town just a few kilometers to the west of the city of San Remo, from whence comes the race's name.

As might be expected, there is much red on the entry list, though there are five Talbots and two British H.W.Ms to add some variation. Within the red ranks Fangio's Alfa is pitted against four works Ferraris (Ascari, Villoresi, Gonzales and Serafini) as well as Rudi Fischer with his Swiss-entered car. There are four privately entered Maseratis for Farina, Schell, Chiron and de Graffenried. David Murray was entered with his own 4.CLT Maserati but he did not appear.

The Talbots are to be driven by four Frenchman and a Belgian - Sommer, Rosier, Louveau and Giraud-Cabantous in the blue ones with Johnny Claes in his Belgian yellow version.

The brave invaders from across the English Channel, the two H.W.M F.2 cars are to be driven by Lance Macklin and the new star of British motor racing, young Stirling Moss.

Practice whetted the appetite for the Alfa and the best of the Ferraris, Fangio and Ascari respectively, were separated by a mere half a second with Gonzales, having his first outing in a works Ferrari, joining them on the front row. De Graffenried and Farina put their Maseratis on row two ahead of Villoresi with three of the Talbots next up. Moss did well to put his H.W.M in 13th place but Macklin, along with Louveau's Talbot were rather tailed off at the back of the field. Apart from those two six seconds covered the top 15 cars.

THE RACE

The first ten laps of this race promised much as Ascari and Fangio roared away from the rest and completed lap 10 just two seconds apart, with Ascari ahead. But that's as far as it went because just before the first corner on lap 11 the Alfa engine note went sky high - the transmission had failed and Fangio found that the engine was no longer driving the wheels. That was that, really, because Gonzales had already slotted solidly in behind Ascari and the burly Argentine followed his leader around for 80 more laps. The gap between the two went out to 30 seconds at one point about half way through the 90 laps but as Ascari eased off, Froilan picked up his pace, set fastest lap on lap 68 and finished just 6 seconds behind, though there was never any question of him actually racing Ascari.

Some excitement ensued with a good battle between Villoresi in the third Ferrari and a hard trying Farina in his Maserati. De Graffenried had stopped as early as lap 7 so it was left to the Good Doctor to take the fight to the Ferraris. And fight he did, leading Villoresi for around 20 laps until Luigi found his true speed and passed the little Maser, eventually drawing away to an advantage of over half a minute with 10 laps to go. Farina was still driving on top form and 4th place was really scant reward for his efforts. Sadly, he didn't even get that as his left front wheel departed the scene on lap 82. This left Raymond Sommer in a secure 4th place following the retirements of all the other Talbots.

Harry Schell won his battle with Moss' H.W.M to take 5th and Fisher and Macklin were the only other finishers after not far off three hours of racing. So once again the Ferrari team is victorious, sweeping the first three places in a demonstration of extreme superiority. It is said that Alfa Romeo will take over the Monza circuit soon to give their cars a thorough test session before their next appearance which will almost certainly not be at either Montlhery, the next race, or Jersey, the one after. Hopefully they will appear again before the British Grand Prix, which starts the World Championship series.

Here is the full result of the 90 lap race:

   1.     4 A. ASCARI FERRARI 375   2.50. 09'98
   2.     8 F. GONZALES FERRARI 375   2.50. 16'08
   3.     6 L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375   2.50. 46'01
   4.   16 R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26     89 laps
   5.   24 H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT     88 laps
   6.   34 S. MOSS H.W.M ALTA     88 laps
   7.   30 R. FISCHER FERRARI 212     87 laps
   8.   36 L. MACKLIN H.W.M ALTA     85 laps
Fastest lap:   GONZALES,   FERRARI 375,   on lap 68,   1.48'19

Retired:
    20 N. FARINA MASERATI 4.CLT     81 laps
    28 Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26     67 laps
    18 L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26     48 laps
    12 J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26     25 laps
    14 L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT     24 laps
    22 H. LOUVEAU TALBOT LAGO T.26     13 laps
    10 D. SERAFINI FERRARI 375     11 laps
      2 J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158     10 laps
    26 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT       6 laps

Race Notes:

  • There is still hope for an exciting season but the Alfa Corsa team have to get their act together soon or Ferrari will dominate.
  • Gonzales' drive was first class. He matched Ascari virtually all the way and his fastest lap was mighty.
  • Villoresi is a little uncomfortable about being beaten by this rotund upstart but his pace towards the end shows he still has It.
  • Farina had driven magnificently, the Maserati sliding around the corners, and the groan when his wheel fell off was audible above the engines.
  • The normally reliable Talbots had an 80% failure rate although Rosier's retirement was self-inflicted.
  • Moss was his usual excellent self, including a stunningly fast lap early on, but Macklin's car seemed to have a mind of its own - slow, then fast, then
        slow, with the driver never knowing how it would behave from one lap to the next.
  • Rudi Fischer had a very steady race this time. The car is slow on the straights but the Swiss drove it very nicely.
  • The entry for the next event, at the Parisian circuit of Montlhery, is expected to be almost entirely French.

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