Chris Nixon is not quite right (Letters, December) in stating that there were only two versions of the Reims circuit. The alterations to the original layout took place in two stages. The village of Gueux was by-passed in 1952, but the new section joined the original circuit at Virage de la Hovette (clearly marked on the ‘map’, which is actual an aerial photograph). This interim circuit was used only for the major 1952 events at the venue, the Reims Grand Prix (in which Jean Behra’s Gordini famously beat the works Ferraris) and the Reims Sportscar Grand Prix (won by Stirling Moss’ Jaguar C type).
In 1953 the Hovette-Muizon-Garenne loop was added to give the circuit its final configuration, first used for that years inaugural Reims I2-hour sportscar race(won by Moss and Whitehead in a Jaguar C), which was followed a few hours later (some drivers competed in both!) by the French Grand Prix which featured Hawthorn’s epic victory over Fangio.
I believe that the shorter 1952 circuit became known as the ‘circuit d’essais’ (lest circuit’) but have no knowledge of it ever being used for racing after the 1952 events.
I am, yours, etc. Alan Baker, Harlow, Essex