9th March 2010

GRAN PREMIO di SIRACUSA
Syracuse

A STROLL IN THE SUN FOR ASCARI

This is the first major race for my new Titans cars. Being an Italian (Sicilian) event, the entry is almost exclusively populated by Italian cars, though there are two Talbots also on the list.

The race will be run over 80 laps of the triangular circuit made up of public roads on the western edge of the city on Sicily's east coast.

Apart from a splendid effort by Farina in his new Maserati, it was the factory Ferraris that dominated practice. The cars of Ascari and his mentor Villoresi were quick, smooth and extremely impressive, taking the front two positions on the 2 x 2 grid. As seems to be the way of things, the two Talbots, admittedly driven by top line drivers, were quite competitive and you can bet they will still be around at the end. For Alfa Romeo, things were not so impressive. Deciding to send a single car with their test driver Consalvo Sanesi, ostensibly to see how the car performs against strong opposition, may not have been a wise decision.

The car lacked speed and Sanesi was not able to lap within four seconds of the Ferraris. There seems to have been an issue with the engine, which apparently, has been changed since practice ended, so maybe the car will perform better in the race.

Bira is not happy with his OSCA, the pale blue and yellow car seems to want to lift its inside wheels in the corners, give the Prince an uncomfortable ride, but at least he is ahead of the Swiss privateer Rudi Fischer, who is really struggling to get any sort of speed out of his new Ferrari.

THE RACE

There was really very little doubt about the way this race would go and so it was no surprise to see Alberto Ascari cruise away from the opposition to win by a very large margin indeed. His team-mate Villoresi ran second all the way, and set fastest lap, but his overall pace could not match that of his young protégé. Louis Rosier made sure that Villoresi couldn't relax as he hung on to the second Ferrari for the entire race, the Talbot running as well as could be expected.

The first three places never changed for the entire 80 laps and indeed, once Dorino Serafini had got past the mediocre Alfa Romeo of Sanesi around lap 15, the top five ran unchanged to the finish. It was a sobering debut for the Alfa as Sanesi was lapped twice by Ascari; they will be hoping for much more when they roll out their big guns later in the season.

Maserati followers had a disappointing day. After Farina's excellent third place on the grid, the Good Doctor's 4.CLT never ran properly and he retired from tenth place on lap 29. De Graffenried's car also went sick around half distance, so he did not finish either. Godia's car was terrible all the way through, the Spaniard finishing a distant last, lapped five times. Only Harry Schell had anything like a half decent race, being involved in a dice with Sommer's Talbot for most of the race. Eventually he was beaten for sixth place by the Frenchman.

Fisher's Ferrari did not last long - too new and needing testing, while Prince Bira ran near the back with the ill-handling OSCA, although at least, he did make the finish again.

So, not the most rivetting of races, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Here is the full result of the 80 lap race:


   1.   20 A. ASCARI FERRARI 375   2.54.19'80
   2.   24 L. VILLORESI FERRARI 375   2.56.03'26
   3.     4 L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26   2.56.18'56
   4.   18 D. SERAFINI FERRARI 375     79 laps
   5.   10 C. SANESI ALFA ROMEO 158     78 laps
   6.     2 R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26     78 laps
   7.   22 H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT     78 laps
   8.   14 B. BIRA OSCA     77 laps
   9.     8 F. GODIA MASERATI 4.CLT     75 laps
Fastest lap:   VILLORESI,   FERRARI 375,   on lap 57,   2.05'76


Retired:
      6 E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT     43 laps
    12 N. FARINA MASERATI 4.CLT     28 laps
    16 R. FISCHER FERRARI 212     16 laps

Notes:

  • The speed and reliability of the Ferraris does not promise a terribly competitive and exciting season.
  • No doubt the Alfa Romeo team will be expecting much more when Farini, Fangio and Fagioli come to the party.
  • Much work needs to be done by those running Maseratis. The cars flatter, only to fail to maintain their pace.
  • The OSCA seems to have a balance problem. The inside rear wheel keeps lifting in corners.
  • There are great hopes riding on the yet-to-be-seen B.R.M V.16. It should make its debut at Goodwood in a month or so's time.
  • At the moment, we have to say, thank goodness for Talbots.....
  • The next event for these cars is the Pau Grand Prix, which should attract a top class entry.

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