1952 Grand Prix de la Marne at Reims — Jean Behra's Gordini defeats Ferrari

IV Grand Prix of France at Reims

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64

History was made on the modified Reims circuit on June 29th when Jean Behra, driving a 2-litre Gordini, beat the Ferrari team of Ascari, Villoresi and Farina. The “works” Italian cars have often been challenged in Formula II racing but this was the first time they were roundly beaten. The triangular circuit has had the Gueux corner replaced by a long curve and the new Gordinis showed that on sheer speed they were more than a match for the Ferraris.

Three 2-litre Gordinis driven by Manzon, Behra and Bira were matched against the three Ferraris, Manzon’s car being fitted with a new type of “Porcupine” ribbing on the brake drums. The Ferraris were the four-cylinders, with long radiator cowlings and rubber “buffers” in the front suspension. The rest of the field, which was completely outclassed by the Ferrari/Gordini duel, consisted of Moss, Macklin, Collins and Cabantous on H.W.M.s, Brandon, Brown and Hawthorn on Cooper-Bristols, Charrington (Aston-Butterworth), Schell and Graffenried (Maserati-Plate), Claes and Trintignant with four-cylinder Simcas, the latter with a twin-cam fitted with Weber carburetters, Rosier (four-cylinder Ferrari), Whitehead with his new very-alloy Alta and Carini and Cortese with last year’s “works” twelve-cylinder Ferraris running under the Ecurie Marzotto badge.

Behra took the lead from the start and Ascari hung on for 14 laps before he came in and changed plugs, handing over to Villoresi who had already retired. After that Behra was unchallenged and lapped all but the second man, Farina. The magnificent victory of the Gordini overshadowed the rest of the field and brought forth scenes of uncontrolled excitement not seen for many years. Manzon was backing his team mate up well, holding third place until mechanical trouble forced him out and Ascari taking over his car again caught the third Gordini just before the end, breaking the lap record in so doing.

Formula II (3 Hours)

1st: J. Behra (Gordini six-cylinder) 169.935 k.p.h.

2nd: G. Farina (Ferrari four-cylinder) 169.281 k.p.h.

3rd: A. Ascari/L. Villoresi (Ferrari four-cylinder) 168.244, 1 lap behind

4th: B. Bira (Gordini four-cylinder), 1 lap behind

5th: L. Rosier (Ferrari four-cylinder), 5 laps behind

6th: J, Claes (Simca four-cylinder), 6 laps behind

7th: M. Hawthorn (Cooper six-cylinder), 6 laps behind

8th: Y. G. Cabantous (H.W.M. four-cylinder), 6 laps behind

9th: H. Schell (Maserati four-cylinder), 9 laps behind

10th: S. Moss (H.W.M. four-cylinder), 10 laps behind

11th: E. Brandon (Cooper six-cylinder), 11 laps behind

Fastest lap: A. Ascari (Ferrari), 2 min. 28.2 sec.-174.842 k.p.h.

Before the Formula II race was an uninspiring sports car event in which the only serious contestants were Moss, driving Tommy Wisdom’s XK120C with disc brakes, and Manzon with the Le Mans 2.3-litre Gordini. Although it was giving away over a litre the French car had no difficulty in building up a minute lead over the Jaguar, until a front hub bearing seized and caused the car to crash into a pylon; Manzon jumped out before the impact and escaped with abrasions. This left Moss to go on and win with ease. Sir James Scott-Douglas, driving a “Wilkie”-tuned XK120, drove well but could not hope to challenge the 120C.

Sports Cars (50 laps)

1st: S. Moss (Jaguar 120C) 158.017 k.p.h.

2nd: G. Mairesse (Talbot), 2 laps behind

3rd: J. Scott-Douglas (Jaguar 120), 3 laps behind

4th: R. Loyer (Simca four-cylinder), 4 laps behind

5th: H. Wagner (B.M.W.), 6 laps behind

6th : G. Schoenborn (Sinica four-cylinder), 9 laps behind

Fastest lap: R. Manzon (Gordini), 2 min. 35.5,sec.–166.630 k.p.h.

The Type A6G Maserati

For the past two years there has been little racing activity at Bologna. The Brothers Maserati left the company to found their own firm of Osca, building a 4½-litre G.P. car and also a sports model, while the factory turned over to manufacturing electrical components and batteries. Now, however, fresh capital has been found and the Casa Bolognese has returned to the racing field, making a promising debut at the Monza Grand Prix with the new Formula Two six-cylinder.

Strictly speaking, it is not a new model, as two “Sixes,” which are now in the hands of the Brazilian drivers Landi and Bianco, were produced before the firm gave up racing, but the A6Gs are the latest development.

In appearance the new cars are shorter and slimmer than the San Remo 4 CLT model. Front suspension is by coil spring and wishbones, which project from the front cowling. An orthodox rear-axle is used, with splayed-out quarter-elliptic springs below the axle and radius-rods above the springs.

The engine is a handsome and compact piece of machinery, with two overhead camshafts, two valves per cylinder set at an included angle of ninety degrees, and three double-choke Weber carburetters.

The transmission follows normal Maserati practice, dry-plate clutch, four-speed gearbox in unit with the engine and propellor shaft in a torque-tube.

The engine at present develops about 170 h.p., which is 10 to 15 below the output of the four-cylinder Ferrari. On the other hand, the car complete only weighs about 11 cwt., which is about 130 lb. less than the Ferrari. The effect of this high power-weight ratio was clearly shown at Monza, where Bonetti was able to cut through from the second row of the starting-grid to take leading position. — T.G.M.