St. Etienne, May 16th.
With all the Grand Prix activity concentrated on Silverstone, the Continent saw a relatively quiet weekend and the Automobile Club du Forez Organised their hill-climb for touring and sports cars. The course remained on the main road out of St. Etienne, but this year finished just before the village of Planfoy instead of after it as last year, making a distance of 5.2 kilometres. As the road is an important one, being RN 82, it is not possible to close it to the public for more than one day, so instead of having a practice session competitors were allowed two climbs, and the best time was counted for the results. Most competitors spent Saturday afternoon driving up and down the hill and though the road was open to normal traffic the police were marshalling on every corner and preventing any risk of meeting other competitors returning down the hill.
All cars in the touring category were weighed before the start, just to make sure they were basically standard and had not got aluminium bodies, etc., and the first runs commenced with the inevitable 4. c.v. Renaults, which hummed away up the hill between the crowds of spectators on each side of the start. The groups were classes by capacity in the standard international limits of up to 750 c.c., 750-1,300 c.c.. 1.300-2,000 c.c. and over 2.000 c.c. Surprise of this group was a local driver, J. Rocher, with a standard 1,500 Porsche, who beat three Alfa-Romeo T1 saloons and a Sprint model, as well as the German Porsche specialist Von Frankenburg with a 1,300-c.c. Porsche and a Swiss driver of a 2 1/2 Lancia Aurelia G.T. His time was 3 min. 20 sec. and remained unbeaten until the faster sports cars appeared. Among the sports group were an 1,100-c.c. Osca coupé, Bourely with his 1,500-c.c. Gordini coupé, a new French-owned Maserati A6G, a TR2 Triumph, Pozzi with one of last year’s Le Mans Lago-Talbots and Blanc with his earlier Lago-Talbot. Of special interest was the Alfa-Romeo of a Swiss driver Ducrey, for it was the first Disco Volante model, built around 1,900 Alfa-Romeo parts. The engine was a very special version of the 1,900 brought up to a full 2 litres and having four Weber carburetters, while the gearbox was of 1,900 type, but with a central remote control. The chassis frame was of multi-tubular pattern and front and rear suspension followed 1,900 principles, while TI type brakes were used with Rudge hubs and wheels. The two-seater body was not so “Disco” as the much publicised models and looked the better for it. It was the car’s first outing in the new owner’s hands and he only just failed to make second f.t.d. against the two Talbots driven by experienced and practised drivers.
Although it did not actually rain for the meeting, the roads were wet in places, but everyone drove with reserve and there were no incidents to cause delays. The result was that the 52 starters all had their two runs and the meeting was finished in excellent time, the organisation being most efficient.
The system of timing was by electrical coupling between the finish and the start and competitors were sent off at one-minute intervals with a short break between classes. Each class was then conducted back to the start by a member of the local motor-cycle club over a circuitous route, round the neighbouring hills, and thus brought back to the paddock entrance in their correct starting order, the start being at the exit of the paddock. After the second runs all competitors waited at the summit and then returned down the hill in convoy and were led through the town to the “prizegiving” hotel. It was a well-run meeting organised by a small but enthusiastic club and, as so often happens, better than some events run by bigger and more renowned organisations.
Course De Cote De Planfoy — 5.2 Kilometres — Damp Conditions
Results (fastest six times):
1st: C. Pozzi (Talbot 4 1/2-litre) … 3 min.1.8 sec. … 102.970 k.p.h.
2nd: J. Blanc (Talbot 4 1/2-litre) … 3 min. 3.0 sec.
3rd: J. Ducrey (Alfa-Romeo 2-Iitre) … 3 min. 3.6 sec.
4th: R. Bourely (Gordini 1 1/2-litre) … 3 min. 7.8 sec.
5th: G. Barbier (Peugeot Special 203) … 3 min. 12.6 sec.
6th: —. Maret (Cisitalia 2.8.litre) … 3 min. 16.6 sec.