Le Mans (June 20th/21st)
For once the Aston Martin team achieved sufficient reliability to last out the 24 hours and profit from the mechanical faults of the works Ferraris and works Porsches. This year’s event was a demonstration of stamina rather than strength and by the end of the race all serious opposition had fallen by the wayside, leaving the two Aston Martins victorious over a row of private Gran Turismo Ferraris.
Engine failure was a notable feature of this year’s race. The whole Ferrari team, all the Jaguar-engined cars, nearly all of the Porsches, the 2½-litre Lotus and one works Aston Martin all succumbing to the malady, ranging from bent valves to broken crankshafts. Of the 53 starters only 13 finished and the results were a triumph for near-production cars such as Ferrari 250 G.T., A.C.-Bristol and Lotus Elite.
Even with Moss driving, the Aston Martins were no match for the Ferrari team and after the Behra/Gurney car withdrew, Salvadori and Shelby led, but then Gendebien/Hill brought the second Ferrari into the front and looked like certain winners until their engines gave trouble just before 12 noon on Sunday, with only four hours to go, leaving Salvadori/Shelby once more in the lead, with no fear of opposition. The Porsches were well in the running and Bonnier/von Trips got as high as fourth place before retiring, and ultimately not one of the six Porsches that started completed the race. The Lister-Jaguars were outclassed, but the Ecurie Ecosse D-type driven by Gregory Ireland went extremely well and looked a possible winner at one time, until a con.-rod broke.
An excellent demonstration of planned reliability was the privately-prepared Elite of Lumsden/Riley that ran like a clock and won the 1,500-c.c. class. Until it gave trouble the Stacey/Green Lotus Seventeen was leading the Index Handicap and its class, and these awards then went to a works D.B. with four-camshaft engine.
1st: R. Salvadori/C. Shelby (Aston Martin DBR1/300) 324 laps 181.163 k.p.h.
2nd: M. Trintignant/P.Frer (Aston Martin DBR1/300) 323 laps
3rd: “Beurlys”/L. Dernier (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 298 laps
4th: G. Arantz/A. Pilette (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 297 laps
5th: H. Grossmann/S. Tavano (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 295 laps
6th: L. Sayen/G. Munaron (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 294 laps