24.5.12

COUPE RENÉ le BÈGUE - St. Cloud

ALFA ARE BACK

In Switzerland the Alfa Romeo team had a day to forget but in Paris it was business as usual with Farina and Fangio dominating the event from start to finish.

THE CIRCUIT

The St. Cloud circuit in Paris was one of the rarer city tracks in that it was a figure of eight track and in addition to that, it had a tunnel; a long straight one, marked on my circuit map by the red rectangle. It does present a problem because when the cars enter the tunnel, from the left, virtually all the sound from the car disappears and it is very hard to judge the speed coming out - and as you can see, there is a fairly sharp left-hand corner just after the tunnel exit.

ENTRY

The Coupe Rene le Begue was a race held in memory of a French racing driver who died from gas inhalation in an accident caused by a faulty water heater in early 1946. The entry for my race is predominantly made up from drivers who actually took part in the race although I have added a few extras and have left some out. There WERE two works Alfa Romeos in the real race back in 1946 but I have substituted Fangio for Wimille.

There were four Talbot Lagos driven by the regulars Rosier, Sommer, Giraud-Cabantous and Levegh. No entry for Etancelin this time. The three pre-war cars that ran at Nimes are trying again - Louveau and Trintignant in Delages and Pozzi with the big Delahaye.

In addition to the two Alfa Romeos of Farina and Fangio, six Maseratis completed the Italian contingent. Chiron, Schell and 'Raph' brought their own cars while the two Plate cars are there for Enrico himself and Villoresi; and last but not least David Hampshire had the green Maserati with which he won the Jersey Road Race earlier in the season. All the Maseratis were 4.CLTs.

PRACTICE

Although Louis Rosier managed to split the two Alfa Romeos with his Talbot in the first practice session, Fangio went faster in the second and virtually equalled Farina's time from the first, thus putting the two dark red cars into the first two positions on the grid. Rosier, like Farina and Sommer, was unable to go any quicker second time around but the top three were comfortably quicker than the rest of the field. Joining Sommer on row two was a very impressive Yves Giraud-Cabantous, who was quicker than all the Maseratis, three of which lined up behind him in the order Schell, Chiron and Villoresi. Levegh posted an encouraging 9th place time, especially considering that he had only one practice session due to his engine refusing to run in the morning session.

Behind Pierre came the other three Maseratis - Plate, 'Raph' and Hampshire (the latter's car taking some time to warm up as it hadn't run for many weeks). The rear of the field was, predictably, brought up by the three old French cars with Charles Pozzi delighted to be ahead of the two Delages, neither of which was going very well, particularly Trintignant's.

THE RACE

Here is the complete result of the 30 lap race:

1.
2
N. FARINA ALFA ROMEO 158
1. 32. 38'84
2.
1
J. M. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158
1. 33. 15'70
3.
6
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
1. 34. 32'30
4.
9
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26
1. 34. 39'27
5.
12
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
1. 36. 35'28
6.
3
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26
29 laps N.R.F
7.
7
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26
29 laps
8.
20
E. PLATÉ MASERATI 4.CLT
29 laps
9.
10
LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26
29 laps
10.
18
D. HAMPSHIRE MASERATI 4.CLT
28 laps
11.
15
H. LOUVEAU DELAGE D6.70
28 laps
Fastest lap:   N. FARINA, ALFA ROMEO 158   on lap 17,   2. 59'03

Retired:
17
'RAPH' MASERATI 4.CLT
21 laps
14
M. TRINTIGNANT DELAGE D6.70
8 laps
21
L. VILLORESI MASERATI 4.CLT
6 laps
23
C. POZZI DELAHAYE 135
2 laps

PARISIEN POINTERS

  • This was not the greatest of races but Alfa Romeo won't care about that.
  • Chiron fought a race-long battle with Sommer but settled in the end for 4th....
  • ....which became 3rd when Sommer's car stopped in the tunnel on the very last lap.
  • Rosier was rather puzzled with his lack of pace in comparison with the previous race in Nimes.
  • Harry Schell was wild but stayed on the road to record a good finish.
  • Both 'Raph' and Hampshire found their cars getting better as the race went on, although 'Raph' crashed out on lap 22.
  • Pozzi's Delahaye did not last long and Trintignant followed him into retirement soon after.
  • Louveau's Delage survived but it was rather slow.
  • Continuing the run of French town races, the circus moves to the incredibly tight confines of Angouleme next.

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