In 1956 a 1,000-kilometre race was held at Montlhéry, for sports cars, and was won by Behra and Rosier driving a works Maserati 300S; this year the race was repeated, but was restricted to Gran Turismo cars. The two Frenchmen took 6 hr. 41 min. 03.1 sec. to cover the 1,000 kilometres in 1956, and this year Olivier Gendebien and Lucien Bianchi took 6 hr. 54 min. 46.8 sec, with a 250GT Ferrari, most of the discrepancy being due to arranging a chicane at the beginning of the banking, so that speeds would be kept down, whereas previously the cars went onto the banking at their maximum. The 7.784-kilometre circuit was used, which incorporates one of the bankings and the road circuit right to the end of the double-track part and takes in the steep descent, and ascent on the return, of the Lapize hill.
The race was a complete walk-over for GT Ferraris, these cars filling the first five places, and the works-entered car, driven by von Trips and Mairesse might well have won had the drivers eased the pace a bit and conserved their tyres. As it was their pit stop for new tyres allowed the Gendebien/Bianchi car, entered by the Equipe National Belge, to get a commanding lead, which it maintained to the end. Maximum speed certainly counted on this circuit and there was no one capable of challenging the Ferraris, either the works car or the many privately-owned ones. The much-vaunted 170 m.p.h. (!) Aston Martin GT cars, driven by Salvadori/Ireland and Clark/Maggs, never really got a look in, but in spite of trouble with wheels and exhaust system the former car of these two managed sixth place, beating the works Porsche Abarth-Carrera of Graham Hill and Hanstein. The Index of Performance which usually allows a French D.B. to get in the money went all wrong and a Fiat-Abarth won this handicap, admittedly driven by two Frenchmen.
As a race the 1,000 kilometres was an undoubted success and a crowd of some 20,000 people turned up to watch, which is truly remarkable for Montlhéry, and it can be taken as a sign of the times, for it is very likely that there will be many G.T. races in Europe in 1961 in place of sports-car races.
*1st: O. Gendebien/L. Bianchi (Ferrari 250GT) – 6 hr. 54 min. 46.8 sec.
2nd: W. von Trips/W. Mairesse (Ferrari 250GT) – 6 hr. 56 min. 07.0 sec.
3rd: J. Schlesser/A. Simon (Ferrari 250GT) – 999.617 km.
4th: F. Tavano/”Loustel” (Ferrari 250GT) – 967.240 km.
5th: A.G. Whitehead/H. Taylor (Ferrari 250GT) – 950.757 km.
6th: R. Salvadori/I. Ireland (Aston Martin DB4GT) – 942.863 km.
*7th: G. Hill/H. von Hanstein (Porsche Carrera) – 919.487 km.
8th: Cacchiari/Sala (Ferrari 250GT) – 911.694 km.
9th: A. Pilette/G. Berger (Ferrari 250GT) – 903.902 km.
10th: P. Monneret/P. Boutin (Porsche Carrera) – 880.525 km.
11th: R. Carnegie/J.F. Malle (Lotus Elite)
12th: R. Kerguen/R. Dewez (Porsche Carrera)
13th: R. Stoop/P. Riley (Porsche Carrera)
14th: J. Bernadet/A. Bertaut (A.C. Bristol)
* Class winners – 20 finishers in all.
Fastest lap: W. von Trips (Ferrari) 2 min. 58.5 sec. – 157.156 k.p.h.
Index of Performance:
B. Consten/R. Condrilier (Fiat-Abarth) – 1.087
G. Laureau/P. Armagnac (D.B. Panhard) – 1.082
R. Bartholoni/J. Vinatier (D.B. Panhard) – 1.074