Twice a year meetings are held at the Montlhèry track on a circuit comprising part of the road circuit and part of the banked track, and at each of these there is a pleasantly informal air rather akin to English club meetings. On April 25th two main events were run, the Coupe de Printemps for touring and sports cars up to 2 litres and the Coupe de Paris for touring and sports cars from 2 litres to 4 1/2 litres and racing cars from 750 c.c. to 4 1/2 litres.
As always happens a wide variety of cars are entered, from standard 4 c.v. Renault saloons to 4 1/2-litre Lago-Talbots, and invariably there is a sprinkling of English competitors. This year was no exception and in the first event, which was divided into various classes from normal touring cars to sports cars, there was R. Clarkson with his Morgan Plus Four coupé, fitted with a TR2 Triumph type of Vanguard engine of under 2 litres. A. P. Hitchings with a Ford-engined Lotus, and J. Horridge with a very odd-looking home-made “special” consisting of a Jowett Jupiter chassis and Riley engine. The French opposition was just as varied, but G. Olivier had the open 2-seater Porsche that was at the Paris Salon last year, now fitted with normal 1,500 Porsche push-rod engine in place of the four-camshaft one. In spite of this the Porsche was unbeatable and Olivier drove a very spirited race which he won with ease, followed by M. Balsa with a coupé Veritas with 328 B.M.W. engine. Only one other car completed the full distance and that was a 1,900 Alfa-Romeo T.T. saloon, driven at a furious pace by Martignoni. These three cars were out on their own, but Clarkson kept them company for a few laps until he burnt a hole in a piston. The Lotus broke its crankshaft and the Riley Special ruined its preselector gearbox.
In the Coupe de Paris the entry was even more varied, from standard Citroën six-cylinder to an Arnott 500 and an ex-works Type C Jaguar. Duncan-Hamilton was driving his disc-braked, Weber-carburetted XK120C Jaguar, the factory spare car of last year, John Brice an Arnott-Norton with 596-c.c. engine as the Arnott team were at Montlhèry about to attack records with their streamlined car, Hitchings was running a standard Austin-Healey and Keeling an XK120C. Among the racing class was an early 1,500-c.c. Gordini driven by Thepenier, two “specials” with 2-litre engines contrived from Ford V8 22-h.p. engines and Ardun heads, and a Simca Special. Again the entry was divided into classes by type but it was rather absurd as some groups contained only one car. The winning Porsche of the previous race was allowed to run again and also Roboly, with a sports 2-litre A6G Maserati. A rapid 2 1/2-litre Ferrari was driven by Rodanski and da Silva Ramos had a DB2 Aston Martin with a DB3 engine, a 2.9-litre with horizontal Weber carburetters, and it was outstandingly fast for its type.
Hamilton had been complaining that his disc-brakes were giving trouble but in spite of this he led the race from start to finish completely unopposed. Keeling was lying a comfortable second when he got into difficulties lapping another car and finished up in the ditch, quite unhurt but out of the race. The variegated entry completed the 15 laps in a rather dull procession with only a few of the drivers trying at all, among these being Olivier with the open Porsche and Ramos with 2.9-litre Aston Martin, he finishing a worthy second in front of the single-seater Gordini.
To wind up the proceedings a race of two heats and a final was arranged between some 30 French drivers on the new Monomill cars, which are 850-cc. D.B.s constructed by René Bonnet on the same layout as the D.B. 500-c.c. cars he used to make. Using a special shortened course the Frenchmen flung themselves into the fray with more enthusiasm than knowledge and the result was rather like the dodgem cars at a fair, but all good harmless fun.
Coupe De Printemps — 75 Kilometres
1st: G. Olivier (Porsche), 34 min. 50.0 sec. … 129.827 k.p.h.
2nd: M. Balsa (Veritas Meteor), 35 min. 25.1 sec.
3rd: A. Martignoni (Alfa-Romeo 1,900). 35 min. 32.0 sec.
Fastest lap: G. Olivier (Porsche), 2 min. 47.4 sec. — 135.441 k.p.h.
Coupe De Paris — 100 Kilometree
1st: J. Duncan-Hamilton (Jaguar XKI20C), 40 min. 10.2 sec. … 150.151 k.p.h.
2nd: da Silva Ramos (Aston Martin 2.9-litre), 1 lap behind.
3rd: Thepenier (Gordini 1 1/2-litre). 1 lap behind.
Fastest lap: J. Duncan-Hamilton (Jaguar), 2 min. 24.3 sec.-157.075 k.p.h.
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The Sunbeam M.C.C.’s veteran and vintage car rally takes place on July 25th; entries close on July 8th, to R. G. Venables, The Moors, Tilford, Farnham, Surrey.