7th Grand Prix Rouen-les-Essarts

Another F.2 Win for Moss

Rouen, July 12th.

This year the Rouen race up-graded itself slightly by holding a Formula 2 race as well as its annual sports-car event, though it always seems a pity that a full Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars is no longer held on this wonderful circuit, which is surely one of the best in France. However, the Automobile Club Normand are not greatly blessed financially and for some reason do not warrant fantastic support from the petrol companies, so the Rouen meeting has to remain small in stature. The programme comprised a sports-car event limited to a maximum of 2,000 c.c. with four lower classes and a Formula 2 event, and both races were well supported with a representative entry.

Unfortunately the roads of the circuit are part of the normal public road system and their closing disrupts things pretty badly, so practice is held very early in the morning, starting at 6 a.m. and all being finished by 10 a.m. Held on Friday and Saturday, practice was run in excellent weather and the sports cars all ran together. Moss was driving the new "spaghetti" space-frame Maserati Tipo 60, fitted with a four-cylinder 2-litre engine, and this was notable for being the first official Maserati entry this year and the first outing for this new car. He had very little trouble in making fastest practice time, though Ireland with a 1½-litre Lotus Fifteen was driving exceedingly well and was only 1 sec. slower than Moss, there being nobody else within sight of them.

The F.2 practice on both mornings followed the sports cars and for some unaccountable reason the electrical timing apparatus began to go wrong soon after the racing cars had started to circulate. This first became suspect when Moss was credited with breaking the existing Formula 1 lap record, which stands at 2 min. 22.4 sec. to the late Musso with a Lancia-Ferrari in 1957. Being a fast circuit with some pretty steep gradients the chances of a F.2 car improving on this time was unlikely, so that when the timing apparatus recorded 2 min. 21 sec. for Moss and equally fast times for other fast drivers, such as McLaren, Brabham, Bueb, etc., the timekeepers got a bit worried. After practice was over the apparatus was checked and a committee meeting held, and it was decided to count only the times recorded during the first hour of each F.2 practice, it being estimated that the machine was all right during that length of time. It did not alter the situation very greatly for most people had been out practising very promptly, though it did account for Herrmann getting pole position on the grid with Behra's single-seater Porsche, and Moss being in the centre, for Moss had made his faster laps towards tbe end of practice after he had seen how the opposition was shaping.

The meeting opened with the 35-lap race for sports cars, competing for the Coupe Delamare Deboutteville, and all four classes were astembled on the starting grid in order of practice times, irrespective of capacity. In the 750-c.c. class Graham Hill was driving a Team Lotus 750-c.c. Le Mans car and was opposed by three works D.B.s. also the Le Mans cars, being right-hand drive and having the new four-camshaft engines and driven by Armagnac, Laureau and Chancel. The 751 to 1,100-c.c. class was almost an English affair with Green (Lotus Seventeen), Martyn (Lotus Seventeen), Campbell-Jones (Lotus Eleven), T. Threlfall (Lotus Eleven), the Frenchman Lefebvre (Lotus Eleven) and Ashdown with his Lola, the only other entry, being Jeager with the works D.B. coupe with 851-c.c, push-rod engine. In the 1,101 to 1,500-c.c. class Ireland was on his own with his Lotus Fifteen with twin-cam Climax engine, but he maintained interest by being a serious challenger in the general category. The big class had Moss with the works Maserati, and Michael Taylor, Stacey, Graham and Piper with Lotus Fifteens all using twin-cam Climax engines, and to make up the number the Frenchman Mounier with an A.C.-Bristol.

 As the notorious Raymond Roche was Director of the Race he had to give the start, so it was his usual untidy bungle where the 1-min. signal is given and the start given anything up to 20 sec. afterwards. This time there was some consternation as Ireland could not get his Lotus to fire properly and he was in the middle of the front row, while Green, who was in the middle of the third row, was also in trouble. The 18 cars were packed very tightly on the grid, with Moss on one side of Ireland and Taylor on the other, and the Maserati mechanics were watching Roche closely, but he could not see any way out of the dilemma of having two cars in the centre of the track without their engines running. In desperation he threw his arms in the air, the flag as well, and the race was on, with everyone dodging round the unfortunate Ireland, who had the presence of mind to hold his arm high in the air so that the others could see he was in trouble. Green went off with the rest of them, firing on three cylinders, and Ireland had to wait until everyone had gone before his mechanies could pull him back and push-start the car without crossing the starting line, and then away he went.

As would be expected, Moss toured round and built up a comfortable lead, for, with all due respects to the rest of the drivers, the whole lot put together could barely equal him for driving skill, and the Maserati was more than a match for any 2-litre Lotus. The only interest in the race lay in seeing how Ireland was going to catch up with the rest of the runners, and this was the most outstanding part of the event, for he drove brilliantly and roared his way through the field, passing seven cars on the opening lap. Having set a new lap record twice and pulling out a 9-sec. lead, Moss was prepared to settle down for a quiet tour, but Ireland stirred things up by improving on the lap record and getting into third place behind Stacey by lap six after a very good demonstration of  "Tiger." Moss had left the lap record at 2 mm. 35.3 sec. and Ireland did 2 min. 33.7 sec., so Moss fixed him with 2 mm. 31.8 sec., then 2 min. 30.8 sec., and finally 2 min. 29.0 sec., and then thought,"Now I can tour quietly round and win this race," which is exactly what he did, for he had a comfortable 16 sec. over Ireland, who had taken second place from Stacey.

As everyone is used to, the pits were a scene of constant visits from Lotus cars, Green stopping to change a plug, Taylor to look at a very hot rear-mounted gearbox of the G.P. type on his 2-litre car, Campbell-Jones to worry about a head gasket and Graham Hill to retire with a broken steering mechanism, after having to go straight on at one of the hairpins because the whole thing locked solid. Piper disappeared out on the circuit with his crown-wheel and pinion broken, and then Stacey had smoke and a hot smell coming up from behind his seat so he stopped and found that the oil tank was breathing on to the brake discs, but he carried on and hoped. while Douglas Graham came in to take on water. All this time Moss was touring quietly round with the happy Maserati mechanics keeping him informed of what was going on behind, and when Ireland's car began to lose its brakes, occasionally locking one front wheel, the gap widened rapidly, but at the same time Stacey was making up time after his pit stop and was gaining rapidly on the second man. On lap 34 Stacey was really fully wound up and caught Ireland, and on the last lap he kept wound up and broke the lap record by half a second. These three were the only ones to complete the 35 laps, the rest of the runners being three laps behind and led by Ashdown in the Lola. who had no trouble in winning the 1,100.c.c class in spite of having a very unhappy knock in his engine, so that he had to "light-throttle" most of the way, keeping just ahead of the Lotus opposition. With the Team Lotus 750 broken down the D.B.s had it all their own way in the 750-c.c. class.

The F.2 event was a much more serious affair and 22 cars lined up on the grid, with Herrmann (Porsche), Moss (Cooper-Borgward) and Brabham (Cooper-Climax) on the front row. The rest of the entry was almost identical to that at Reims the previous weekend, with the exception of the works Ferrari and the works Porsches. Bueb and Bristow had the B.R.P. Cooper-Borgwards, Trintignant, Gregory, McLaren, Salvadori, Schell, Burgess, Lewis, Taylor, Parnell, Gibson, Bianchi and Gendebien all in Cooper-Climaxes, the Iast two driving for the Equipe National Belge, and Graham Hill a works Lotus, while Ireland. Stacey and Halford also had cigar-shaped Lotus cars with Climax engines. To complete the list Behra had lent his sports RSK Porsche to Laureau, the D.B. driver.

Before the start a short period of track inspection was allowed which most drivers took advantage of, this being a very sensible idea. The whole field got away well and rushed off down the fast winding hill to the Nouveau Monde hairpin, where Bueb promptly spun and dropped to the back of the tightly packed field. As would be expected on such a drivers-circuit, Moss was leading all the way and the only possible challenger was Brabham, who was holding on in second place. Salvadori stopped at the pits with a rough-sounding engine and, long after everyone had gone by, Bianchi arrived with a burst clutch and retired, while Bueb went by like a rocket trying to make up time. On the second lap the field was quite spread out, with little groups having wheel-to-wheel dices, and more Coopers arrived at the pits in trouble. Salvadori returning and Gibson joining him.

Moss soon pulled out a 4-sec. lead over Brabham and sat there with an eye to his mirror while he set up a new F.2 lap record in 2 min. 24.9 sec. For third place there was a good race going on between Schell, Herrmann and McLaren, while further back there was a string of cars nose to tail, consisting of Trintignant, Gregory, Bristow, Halford, Hill and Lewis, with very little to choose between them all. Before catching up much ground Bueb retired with everything covered in oil from a broken pipe, and on the same lap Herrmann went out with something seizing up in the Porsche transmission. By 10 laps most of the excitement seemed to be over, for Moss was touring round in the lead. Brabham was still sitting in second place, and then there was a long gap before Schell arrived, followed by McLaren and Trintignant. Gregory was having awful trouble with Bristow, being quite unable to shake him off, and Halford was not far behind them, while Graham Hill had Lewis on his tail. Taylor had stopped on lap two to repair a petrol union and dropped a long way back, but was now going very well but too far behind to ever catch anyone. On lap 14 Ireland went off the road due to brake trouble and nose-dived down into a small valley, being remarkably lucky to get away with cuts and bruises, and on the same corner Lewis went off the road, spun, and hit the bank, also getting away unhurt.

Moss was now taking his time about lapping the field and when Brabham had trouble on lap 17 the Cooper-Borgward had 63 sec. lead over Schell. Brabham had an oil pipe split and he spun when the oil went all over his rear tyres, and he limped back to the pits and retired. Gregory and Bristow now caught Trintignant, and in the scuffle the American got clear and left the Frenchman to deal with the new Cooper-Borgward driver, who was going pretty well and not giving way. Stacey had been having a bad time with his Lotus gearbox, which was an old-type one, and he eventually gave up the unequal struggle on lap 20, and Halford came in for water for his Lotus. Having got out on his own, Gregory began to go very fast and galloped up on McLaren, caught him, passed him and set off after Schell, who had been warned of the danger and was driving furiously. All this while Moss was touring round making it all look so easy and dropping a second or two of his lead here and there without any danger to his position. By 30 laps Gregory had Schell in his sights and then he closed to a mere 3 sec. Meanwhile, Bristow and Trintignant were still dicing together for fifth place, for McLaren was settled down on his own in fourth place. The rest of the field, led by Hill, had been lapped by Moss, and Gendebien had retired with a broken final drive and Halford had stopped having water put in when it was discovered that the radiator was split.

Moss completed the 35 laps at his ease, to win his second race of the day, and Schell just managed to stay ahead of Gregory for second place, but the gap was only a few feet, while the Bristow v. Trintignant duel ended with them side by side, the Borgward-engined car winning by half a length.

Results:

7th G.P. of Rouen -- Formula 2 -- 35 Laps -- 299 Kilometres -- Warm and Dry

1st: S. Moss (Cooper-Borgward) 1 hr. 28 min. 05.8 sec. 155.944 k.p.h.

2nd: H. Schell (Cooper-Climax) 1 hr. 28 min. 36.1 sec.

3rd: M. Gregory (Cooper-Climax) 1 hr. 28 min. 36.3 sec.

4th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax) 1 hr. 29 min. 16.4 sec.

5th: C. Bristow (Cooper-Borward) 1 hr. 29 min. 25.7 sec.

6th: M. Trintignant (Cooper-Climax) 1 hr. 29 min. 25.8 sec.

Fastest lap: S. Moss (Cooper-Borgward), on lap eight, in 2 min. 24.9 sec. -- 162.534 k.p.h.

4th Coupe Delamare Deboutteville -- Sports -- 35 Laps -- 299 Kilometres -- Warm

*1st: S. Moss (Maserati 2,000-c.c. Tipo 60) 1 hr. 29 min. 40.9 sec. 153.188 k.p.h.

2nd: A. Stacey (Lotus Fifteen 2,000-c.c.) 1 hr. 30 min. 24.0 sec.

*3rd: I. Ireland (Lotus Fifteen 1,500-c.c.) 1 hr. 30 min. 32.1 sec.

*4th: P. Ashdown (Lola 1,100-c.c.) 1 hr. 29 min. 57.8 sec. -- 3 laps behind.

5th: D. Graham (Lotus Fifteen 2,000-c.c.) 1 hr. 39 min. 04.9 sec. -- 3 laps behind.

6th: C. Martyn (Lotus 1,100-c.c.) 1 hr. 30 min. 08.3 sec. -- 3 laps behind.

Fastest lap: A. Stacey (Lotus 2,000-c.c.), on lap 35, in 2 min. 28.5 sec. -- 158.594 k.p.h. (new sports record)

* Class Winners