5th June 2011

CIRCUITO di VERCELLI

SANESI HEADS ALFA 1-2

The Circuito di Vercelli was a race run only a couple of times in the late 1940s. I decided that as I am running cars from 1950-51, I would race there but the entry would not be anything like that which actually raced there, so the entry this time is a purely imaginary set of cars. As it happenes, the upcoming Grand Prix de Nimes was run on the very same day so cars and drivers entered for that race will not be included in this Italian event.

The entry list is headed by two of the, thus far, all-conquering Alfa Romeos but with, shall we say, their 'lesser' two drivers, Luigi Fagioli and Consalvo Sanesi, the latter being basically the Alfa test driver but being allowed a race this time. Ferrari are sending two cars, again leaving their regular pilots at home. Piero Taruffi gets a run out along with Dorino Serafini, another test driver.Maserati is the largest marque represented with four 4.CLTs. There are cars for Farina (no doubt determined to beat Alfa, who he probably feels he should be driving for), Bonetto, Godia and Onofre Marimon in one of the Argentine cars. Gordini are optimistically entering two cars for Manzon and Simon, while Johnny Claes is bringing his much-raced Talbot from Belgium. The factory OSCA is entered for regular driver Franco Rol and the entry is completed by the Swiss Rudi Fischer with his Ferrari, having a run-out before his home Grand Prix in a few weeks.

PRACTICE

Consalvo Sanesi was supreme in practice, heading the list in both sessions to take a very well deserved pole position. Taruffi worked very hard in his Ferrari and managed to split the two Alfas, relegating Fagioli to the outside of the front row. Serafini in the second Ferrari was third fastest in the first session but slipped to sixth in the second as the Maseratis of Farina and Marimon improved their times to go ahead of the Ferrari. Marimon had a gearbox failure in the first session but with this repaired he was very quick when it mattered.

Claes got his old Talbot working very well to place seventh, ahead of Godia and Rol. As one would expect, the two Gordinis were at the back, some distance behind Bonetto, whose Maserati was not running as it ought to have done. Fischer's Ferrari looked better than the last time we saw it but he was still only tenth.

THE RACE

Try though he might, Piero Taruffi was unable to trouble the two cars from Turin in the 72 lap race. By lap 12 he was already 16 seconds behind Sanesi and the gap simply increased lap by lap and although Piero was working extremely hard he was never able to make any inroads into the two Alfas' advantage. At the front the Alfa drivers played at leading, first Sanesi, then Fagioli, but the feeling was always that the younger man had the edge and although Luigi led into the last ten laps the gap was very small and Sanesi eased past with eight laps to go, pulling away to win by 9 seconds with the fastest lap of the race just five laps from the end.

Nino Farina did his best with the Maserati but was never going to trouble the factory cars ahead of him although he was able to maintain a steady 4th place for most of the race. At one point, around half distance, Farina got within a second of Taruffi and a battled looked on but the Ferrari pulled away leaving the Maserati driver to come home a lonely 4th. After a very poor start that saw him drop to the back of the field, Marimon came through splendidly to 5th place although a lap adrift of Farina, who himself was lapped. Serafini had retired his Ferrari very early and Claes, after an excellent start - 4th place ahead of Farina for the first 12 laps - dropped out on lap 29. Godia ran very well and looked all set for 6th place until the Maserati engine failed on lap 58. So it was Franco Rol who took a delighted 6th place ahead of the struggling Ferrari of Fischer and Andre Simon in the surviving Gordini who was lapped no less than six times.

Here is the full result of the 72 lap race:

   1.     4 C. SANESI ALFA ROMEO 158   1. 28. 12'47
   2.     2 L. FAGIOLI ALFA ROMEO 158   1. 28. 21'69
   3.     6 P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375   1. 29. 24'14
   4.   10 N. FARINA MASERATI 4.CLT     71 laps
   5.   12 O. MARIMON MASERATI 4.CLT     70 laps
   6.   18 F. ROL OSCA     69 laps
   7.   16 R. FISCHER FERRARI 212     68 laps
   8.   24 A. SIMON GORDINI 15     66 laps
Fastest lap:   SANESI,   ALFA ROMEO 158,   on lap 67,   1.10'942

Retired:
    20 F. GODIA-SALES MASERATI 4.CLT     57 laps
    26 J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26     28 laps
    14 F. BONETTO MASERATI 4.CLT     21 laps
      8 D. SERAFINI FERRARI 375     16 laps
    22 R. MANZON GORDINI 15     13 laps

VERCELLI VOUCHSAFES

  • There must be an air of depression surrounding Maranello as Ferrari seems totally unable to match these Alfas.
  • The Alfa Romeo 158 seems to possess both speed and superb handling that the opposition can only wonder at.
  • Serafini's third outing this season was as disappointing as his other two. A distant 4th at Syracuse and a retirement at San Remo.
  • Farina drove his Italian socks off but Maserati are simply not a match for Alfa or Ferrari.
  • The OSCA ran reliably and Rol's 6th place was greeted with great joy.
  • Following a couple of encouraging runs, the Gordinis were pretty dreadful this time. Sometimes we wonder why they bother.
  • Rudi Fischer had another very steady race. He just needs to get an engine that goes a bit faster!

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