CONTINENTAL REPORTS By our Continental Correspondent.
Xth GRAN PREM:I0 NAPOLI
NAPLES. Sunday, May 10th.
WHILE Hawthorn was upholding the Ferrari honours at Silverstone, the ” giants ” were practising on the twisty, uphill and downhill, figure-of-eight circuit round the heights of Posillipo overlooking the Bay of Naples. Measuring 4.1 kilometres to the lap it contains 20 Corners of varying radii calculated to strain man and machine to the full. Although the entry was absurdly small the quality far outweighed the quantity, for Ascari, Farina and Villoresi were on the works Ferraris and Fangio and Gonzalez on the very latest six-cylinder works Maseratis As a concession three !oral drivers were allowed to start; Ruggiero with an early two-seater Maserati A6G sports, and Argenziano and d’Apuzzo with home-brewed Fiat-based specials. With the five top drivers of present-day racing mounted on works cars, it was perhaps a good thing that the field was small. Some 50,000 people were present to watch this Formula II battle
over 60 laps under a blazing sun and practice had seen Farina on the top of his form making fastest lap, with Ascari next, then Fangio, Gonzalez and Villoresi, so that the first three were on the front row, the other two behind and the local boys made up row three. The three Ferrari drivers were mounted on the same cars that they drove the previous week at Bordeaux, while the two Argentines had brand new Maseratis. Faugio7s had an extra-large fuel tank with extensions running forward into the cockpit on each side of the seat rather like arm-rests, while Gonzalez had a single tail-tank. Bath cars had been modified in the bodywork, having Ferrari-like air entries, fitted with chromium grilles, and lower tails, Fangiols having a small head-rest reminiscent of a 159 Alfa-Romeo. Mechanically they Were modified in many ways, having a pivoting link arrangement operating the normal central remote gear control by a lefthand lever, working on a ball pivot with the gear position pencilled on the facia. The twin exhaust pipes were greatly increased in diameter, as was the anti-roll bar on the front suspension, and rotary hydraulic shock-absorbers were fitted on the front. Brakes were the 1933 ” spiky ” pattern, and the A-bracket rear-axle stabilisers were fitted. The radiators were lower and larger header tanks used With an oil cooler mounted low down in front, passing the oil to the tank mounted in the point of the tail. Altogether the new Maseratis were much tidier and looked lower and sleeker than the first of the 1953 models. As this select group of star drivers got. away to a searing start,
Gonzalez hesitated and lost a few lengths, but Ascari made his usual masterly getaway and went straight into the lead. As they came by at the end of the lap in line-ahead formation the order was Ascari, Fangio, Farina, Villoresi and Gonzalez, the local boys already being way behind. Ascari shuttered the old lap record by 3 sec.
and gradually drew away from the others, while Villoresi dropped back after a few laps, obviously no longer able to stand the furious pace. Farina, however, was driving in a masterly matuter and made up a little on Fangio on each lap and gradually closed right up. while Gonzalez made up for his bad start and caught and passed Villoresi. The lap record fell steadily, from the old one of 2 min. 15 sec. to 2 rain. 10 see., each time by Aseari as he drew farther and farther away front the others. By lap 15 Farina was making terrific attempts to pass Fangio, but it just was not possible and time and again he would get alongside either going into a corner or coming out of it. This game went on for 10 laps and while it was at its height Ascari drew into his pit. His accelerator pedal had come adrift and he lost four laps while it was fixed. This meant that Fangio was leading, but not for long, for Farina tried really hard and eventually got on the inside of a right-hand bend, both eats sliding wildly all over the road as they accelerated away on the wrong lines and the wrong locks. In the scuffle to get the lead, which Farina got on lap 25, Fangio’s Maserati received a dent in the tail that was clearly caused by a protruding Ferrari nose. Farina was now well away and the crowd loved it for he won this race last year, and more remarkable he was fourth on the occasion of the first race held at Naples, in 1934. With Ascari out of the running and a clear road Farina bettered the lap record a number of times, while Fangio tried vainly to keep up, but failed and then when a front tyre went down he came in to change a wheel in 22 sec. and set off again in a steady second place. Gonzalez was comfortably third and was not on his usual form, while Villoresi slowed greatly
when his rear shock-absorbers gave up working. Ascari, after a further call at his pit, eventually got going again five laps behind the leaders with only just over 20 laps to go. There was no hope of catching the first three, but Alberto made sure of the lap record by breaking it three times in quick succession, leaving it at 2 min. 7.7 sec., and then settling down along with the others to complete the last 10 laps. Of the locals only Argenziano was running at the end, having made a very steady non-stop run and losing only seven tape on the leaders.
Of the five champions, Farina showed that in spite of having been racing the longest be was still able to drive superbly, though Ascari, a youth by comparison, showed that he is master of all.
A brief look through the history of the Naples races is interesting ; it shows Nuvolari winning in 1934, Bira second in 1937 with an E.R.A., the late Johnny Wakefield winning in 1939 -with a Maserati, and Macklin second in 1950 with an 11.W.M. While both Farina and Villoresi have consistently figured in the results. Xth GRAN PREMIO NAPOLI-60 Laps, 246 knrs. (Very Rot Weather)
lot G, Farina (Ferrari 4-eyI.). q. hr. 12 min. 17.1 we … 111.575 k.p.h. : J. M. Fangio (Maserati 6-cyl.), 2 hr. 12 min. 36.4 see.
3rd : F. Gonzalez (Maserati 6seyI.), 2 hr. 13 39.6 see.
4th : L. Villoresi (Ferrari 4-cyl.), 2 hr. 13 min. 9.1 see.
5th : A. Ascari (Ferrari 4-cyld 5 laps behind.
6th : It. Argenzinno (Pegattelli). 7 laps heltind.
Pears; lap : A. Aseari (Ferrari), 36th lap -2 min. 7.7 sec.-115.563 k.p.h. Ret ired : Ruggiero (Masernti), 5th lap; d’Apuszo (Cameo), 23rd lap. Eight
starters, sis finishers. 23rd GRAND PRIX DES FRONTIERES
CHOLA Y, BELGIUM, May 24th.
The annual Whit-Sunday races at Chimay attracted the usual motley collection of cars and drivers for the two events. The first was a six-lap race for Formula III cars, which was dominated by Loans with his Kieft, there being little opposition. The only English drivers were Bacon and Coombes, the former with a Cooper-J.A.P. and the latter with a Reside, the rest of the field being a varied collection of unexciting machinery. Coombes arrived just before the start of the race and completed two laps and Bacon went slower and slower as his cylinder barrel worked loose, finally coasting in to ‘finish fifth. Wicken, Smith .md Nucke) should have. started, which would have made things more interesting, but none of them turned up. Loans toured round to win one of the dullest races imaginable, followed a long way behind by Beets, with a Cooper-J.A.P., and Bossaert with his B.M.W. Special. The Formula II event was a bit better, having 19 starters, among them Trintignant (Gordini) and Bira (MG Maserati), backed tip by Stuck (A.F.M.), Laurent (Ferrari), Clime (Connaught), liPttith (Writes), and the American Wacker with his newly acquired Cordial six-cylinder painted blue and white. The rest of the field comprised amateur French and Belgian drivers, many of whom make Chinaay their sole public appearance with a racing car. Naturally, amongst such a varied entry, Trintignant was in a class of his own and even Bira could not hold him. Having broken the Maserati back axle on his second practice lap, Bira was a bit handicapped by lack of practice. From the start Trintignant had it all his own way, followed by !lira’ Laurent, Stuck, Clues and Wacker, but the Siamese did not last long and on the third lap retired with a bent steering due to having to take to the ditch to avoid another car on the narrow part of the course. This left the two Belgian rivals, Laurent and Clues, to fight it out for second place, followed by Wacker, driving steadily, and Berger in Claes’, old four-cylinder Simca-Gordini going extremely
well for a 1-litre. Trintignant peeled off the 20 laps of the 10.870-kilometre circuit with beautiful regularity and set up -a new lap record in the process with a tour in 4 min. 11 set!. Meanwhile Belgian excitement was running high as the yellow four-cylinder Ferrari and the yellow Connaught kept changing places, until the 18th lap when they got in a bit of a muddle on one of the corners, with the result that Clans got into the rough and stopped himself, leaving Laurent to gain second place. Up to this point Berger had been going well in fifth place but coasted into the pits with a dead engine, that robbed him of a certain fourth place. Laurent and Wacker were the only two to keep on the same lap as the winner, the rest of the field straggling along behind. (Results an page 338.)