Chinetti and Lucas Victorious in the dramatic 24 hour Sports Car Race at Spa. Delage second, Aston Martin third. H.G.R. take Team Prize. Class wins by H.G.R. and Jowett Javelin.
The Spa 24-Hour Sports Car Race, won last year by Aston-Martin, was this year a trying but immensely dramatic affair. At first Trintignant’s 1 1/2-litre F.I.A.T. led and it established the fastest lap in the entire race, at 87.4 m.p.h. When electrical leakages stopped Trintignant, team-mate Manzon, lapping at 86.26 m.p.h., took the lead. Meanwhile Chinetti, famous victor at Le Mans, now driving a different Ferrari, sat watching, in second place, and after three hours he took the lead.
In the 750-c.c. class the Minors had things to themselves, but the leading one had averaged nearly 53 m.p.h. In the 1,100-c.c. category the Scaron-Gordini Simca was a lap ahead of its nearest competitor, of the 1 1/2-litres the Scott-Pilette H.R.G. was three laps behind Trintignant’s F.I.A.T., and of the 2-litre cars, the Haines-Macklin Aston-Martin saloon sat second, half a lap behind the triumphant Ferrari, with Horsfall third in an older Aston-Martin. Johnson and Brackenbury had the 2 1/2-litre Aston-Martin saloon well ahead of Louveau’s Delage in the up-to-4-litre class, thus making amends for the overheating at Le Mans, and another Delage was third. And, splendidly, Wisdom and Hume had a normal Jowett Javelin saloon a lap ahead of a B.M.W., and two laps ahead of an M.G., in the 2-litre touring class, the Jowett having averaged over 67 m.p.h., defeating, also, Citroen and Lancia cars. Mesdames Rouault and Simon had their Delage comfortably ahead of a Ford in the 4-litre touring class.
But 24 hours is a long time. Trintignant’s fine drive ended with engine trouble. The Frazer-Nash bit a tree and a F.I.A.T. aerodynamic coupé went out with axle trouble after the unlucky Capelli brothers had almost, but alas not quite, rectified the fault within the hour allowed, losing the Ambrosiana stable the team prize. As the end finally came in sight the Ferrari led at 79 m.p.h. from Louveau’s Delage and the British outlook was a rosy one, with the 2 1/2 -litre Aston-Martin third, Horsfall’s 2-litre Aston-Martin fourth, and the Haines’ push-rod 2-litre Aston-Martin saloon fifth. But the race was not yet run and it was to take a distinctly startling turn. The Gerard Delage had retired after a series of pit stops, but Louveau’s had motored faultlessly, so that it really looked as if the Le Mans maladies had been cured. Then, after some 23 1/2 hours, oil began to stream from the engine. Louveau went on gingerly to his pit, intending to wait and coast over the line after Chinetti had been flagged the winner. Reminded that this would disqualify him, he set off, almost at a walking pace, to complete his last lap in the stricken Delage. Meanwhile, Chinetti, doubtless a, trifle weary, came on to the oil patch flung by Louveau’s sick car at Hallowell Corner. The Ferrari slid out of control, knocked down a woman spectator and hit a house. Shaken but still irrepressible, Chinetti leapt out, rendered the unfortunate woman first-aid, got in again and drove slowly to his pit. There the leading Ferrari was hastily examined and then set to limp round for the two more laps necessary to win the race. This it safely accomplished, finishing at 78.7 m.p.h. for 1,886.03 miles, a record for this race, in a rather battered condition. Louveau, too, got home, second at 77 m.p.h., for 1,863.74 miles, and the 2 1/2-litre Aston-Martin was a proud third, at 76.7 m.p.h. for 1,836.79 miles.
So ended this great race at Spa, the winning car nearly missing its victory through no fault of its own, but the second car home being in a very sorry condition. Britain can be justifiably very proud of its Aston-Martins, which were third, fourth and fifth and of the Jowett Javelin saloon which, in its first race, won the 2-litre touring class, covering 114 more miles than its nearest rival, an M.G. That hard trier and amateur entrant, Peter Clark, was rewarded when his H.R.G.s took the Team Award for this country, although towards the end his cars were very sick and his own was merely doing one lap every hour to keep it in the running, while the Thompson-Fairman car which won the 1 1/2-litre class covered only 1,564 miles, compared, for instance, with the touring Javelin’s 1,574 miles. The Spa race is really a class affair, the results of which were: —
1st: André and Delhaes (Minor), 49.8 m.p.h. (only finisher).
1st: Brambilla and Bassi (F.I.A.T.), 70.9 m.p.h.
2nd: Merati and Cornet (F.1.A.T.).
1st: E. Thompson and J. Farman (H.R.G.), 64.5 m.p.h.
2nd: Brock and Wright (H.R.G.).
3rd: J. Scott and A. Pilette (H.R.G.).
4th: P. Clark and M. Goodall (H.R.G.).
1st: Chinetti and Lucas (Ferrari), 78.7 m.p.h.
2nd: St. J. Horsfall and P. Frere (Aston-Martin).
3rd: N. Haines and L. Macklin (Aston-Martin).
4th: Chard’hornme and Van Cutsem (Frazer-Nash).
5th: H. Roosdorp and A. de Ridder (Ferrari).
6th: Stoop and Wilson (Frazer-Nash).
7th: Escalle and Egger (Peugeot).
1st: Louveau and Mouche (Delage), 77.7 m.p.h.
2nd: L. Johnson and C. Brackenbury (Aston-Martin), 76.7 m.p.h.
1st: A. Hume and T. H. Wisdom (Jowett Javelin), 65.5 m.p.h.
2nd: Van Mader and Nerinckx (M.G.).
1st: Madame Rouault and Madame Simon (Delage), 64.5 m.p.h.
2nd: C. de Beauffort and F. de Beauffort (Ford).