Reims 12-hour race – not exciting

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Reims, France, July 3rd/4th.

COMING rather soon after the Le Mans 24-hour race neither Ford nor Ferrari were interested in taking part in the 12 hour race at Reims; so it turned into a glorified Club meeting for private owners and an opportunity for non-works people to share the winnings. Main contenders were Luigi Chinette with his Le Mans Prototype Ferrari with 4.4-litre engine, with single o.h.c. to each bank, and Ronnie Hoare with a similar car. Pedro Rodriguez and Frenchman Jean Guichet shared the N.A.R.T. car and Surtees and Parkes shared the British entered car. Also entered by Maranello Concessionaires of Bournemouth was their last year’s Prototype, a PI model, fitted with a 4-litre V12 engine. Possible opposition to these three could only come from four Ferrari 275LM coupés, these being Piper’s with Attwood co-driving, two yellow Belgian ones of Mairesser/”Beurlys” and Dumay/Gosselin and a red one for Langlois and Annie Soisbault. The GT category was a foregone conclusion for the Alan Mann Cobra coupés driven by Bondurant/Schlesser and Sears/Whitmore, with possible opposition from the Willmont Cobra driven by Gardner/Ireland.

Altogether the entry of 22 cars was a pretty poor one for such a long race and one that hopes to become a classic event, and when the race began at 11 p.m. on Saturday night it was clearly an event of mechanical reliability rather than speed and endurance by the drivers. The gremlins crept in and reduced the entry to thirteen finishers, and many of those were very sick and were struggling to finish, while those that were in the running for winning had all experienced trouble and had spent long periods at the pits. The winning car of the N.A.R.T. team had its clutch changed, a trouble experienced on the works Ferraris at Le Mans, and the Surtees/Parkes car had a rocker arm break which caused a blow-hack in the carburetters and set the car on fire; Surtees got the fire out and had the broken rocker replaced. The second Maranello car had gearbox trouble, finally struggling round on top gear until that broke and put the car out after to hours. David Piper’s LM Ferrari finished with gearbox trouble and the Alan Mann Cobra of Sears/Whitmore threw a rod, so the mechanics removed the rod and piston and it limped round on seven cylinders, to finish. The Willment Cobra failed to start after a pit stop-and Langlois crashed the red Ferrari LM.

race in which a French Matra-Ford put it acros§ the British .contingent. The Matra is a rather neat monocoque car based on British 1.3 ears and using-a Ford engine and Hewland gearbox.

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