XV GRAN PREMIO NAPOLI
A Surprise Win
NAPLES, April 26/27th. (Warm and dry.)
THE original intention was to hold a Formula I Grand Prix on the Posillipo circuit, as in past years, but the Italian Government’s ban on road racing caused this to be cancelled. However, as with many Italian things, a firm ” No “ often means “ Well, maybe,” and by a bit of hard work the Automobile Club of Naples managed to get permission to hold a race meeting after all. Two concessions had to be made; first that only sports cars with a maximum of 2,000 c.c. would be run, and, secondly, the northern loop of the figure-of-eight circuit would be left out as this contained a dodgy little narrow section.
At rather short notice the event was put on and consisted of four separate races each over a distance of 100 kilometres, or 40 laps of the shortened circuit. The four races were for 750-c.c., 1,100-c.c., 1,500-c.c. and 2,000-c.c. categories, and whichever of the four winners recorded the best time for the 40 laps would be adjudged the winner of the Naples G.P. and would receive most of the money and the hardware. This turned out to be an excellent idea and put a lot of interest into the 1,500-c.c. and 2,000-c.c. races, which otherwise would have been dull. On Saturday afternoon the first race was for 750-c.c. cars, either sports cars or Italian National F. III, and, in fact, it was a single-seater Stanguellini with twin-cam four-cylinder engine which won, driven by Pirocchi. He was hard pressed by Rigamonti and Leonardi with new 750-c.c. Osca sports models, until the latter blew-up, actually on the penultimate lap. In this race was George Smith, an American, with a very early V-twin Cooper-J.A.P. specially reduced to 750 c.c., but it expired after a few laps.
750 c.c. – 40 laps – 100 kms :
1st: G. Pirocchi (Stanguellini) … 1 hr. 03 min. 50.2 sec. – 93.989 k.p.h.
2nd: G. Rigamonti (Osca) … 1 hr. 04 min. 01.8 sec.
3rd: A. Brachetti (Giaur) … 1 lap behind
Fastest lap : G. Pirocchi (Stanguellini), 1 min. 32.9 sec. – 96.877 k.p.h.
After a short interval the 1,100-c.c. sports cars took the scene, the field of ten cars comprising seven Oseas, two Stanguellinis and a lone Elva, this last being a brand new Mk. III driven by Eugene Hall, unraced and virtually untried. Now these 1,100-c.c. cars had not only to race amongst themselves but the leader had to make sure he was keeping up a race average higher than that set by the 750-c.c. cars. Two Italians, Businello with a brand now Osca with electron wheels, and Scarfotti with an earlier Osca, started a terrific scrap which left everyone else way behind, the Elva running fifth in company with some early Oscas. The leaders ran side by side for a long time, until Scarfotti took the lead, and this made Businello mad and he “dropped it” on one corner. This made him even more excited and in trying to catch up again he went right off the road and bent the car, leaving Scarfiotti an easy winner at a speed higher than that of the 750-c.c. winner. With Businello out the Elva moved up into fourth place, where it finished.
1,100 c.c. – 40 laps – 100 kms :
1st: L. Scarfotti (Osca) … 1 hr. 02 min. 35.1 sec. – 95.870 k.p.h.
2nd: U. Bini (Osca) … 1 hr. 03 min. 36.8 sec.
3rd: G. Rossi (Osca) … 1 lap behind
Fastest lap : L. Scarfotti (Osca), 1 min. 30.6 sec. – 99.367 k.p.h.
That concluded the Saturday activities and the circuit was left overnight, for the oil and rubber to dry off, and Sunday morning the 1.500-c.c. cars lined up, there being only eight cars in this race. Favourite, with no opposition, was Cabianca with a 1958 Osca, but not with the desmodromic valve gear. This new model has had the disposition of the carburetters and exhaust transposed, as the more powerful the engine became the greater heat was coming from the exhaust manifold, which up to the end of 1957 was positioned just above the driver’s legs. Now the exhaust pipes are on the right down by the passengers feet and the two double-choke Weber carburetters are above driver’s legs. The engine is much modified internally and the block is now electron instead of cast-iron, saving a vast amount a weight. Driven from the camshaft drive at the front of the engine is a double-bodied magneto supplying two sets of four sparks for the eight plugs, the internals of the magneto are cooled by an air tube that feeds front the front of the radiator cowl. The chassis remains virtually the same, with double-wishbones and oil-springs at the front and a one-piece, very light rear axle mounted on coil-springs and beautifully located by radius-rods and A-brackets, while all four wheels are damped by adjustable Sturcher telescopic shock-absorbers. An exactly similar car was being driven by Piotti, while three other Italians had earlier model 1,500-c.c. Oscas. There was a home-made “special” using a linered-down 1900 Alfa-Romeo engine. Fischer with an early Porsche Spyder and Latchford with his Halseylec, an 1,100-c.c. Climax-engined car, but running in this class to make up the number.
Although Cabianea was obviously going to walk away with the race he was out to set a time that was as fast as possible as he had a good chance of winning the meeting outright. From start to finish he went just as hard as he could and with only seven other cars on the circuit he was not unduly hampered. In practice a new young Italian, Domenico Lo Coco, had made a creditable time with a 1957 Osca, and he gave chase to Cabianca but his efforts were spoilt when he hit a kerb and buckled a wheel. After stopping at the pits to change it he worked his way back into second place by some very consistent driving, not fast enough to compare with Cabianca but good for a newcomer. The rest went round at varying speeds from slow to even slower, the Porsche and Halseylec having a very low-speed race for last place.
1,500 c.c. – 40 laps – 100 kms :
1st: G. Cabianca (Osca) … 1 hr. 00 min. 45.2 sec. – 98.760 k.p.h.
2nd: D. Lo Coco (Osca) … 3 laps behind
3rd: F. Natella (Osca) … 3 laps behind
Fastest lap : G. Cabianca (Osca), 1 min. 28.6 sec. – 101.580 k.p.h.
Now came the 2,000-c.c. class and Musso had a lone works Ferrari, the Dino 206 V6 model that Collins drove at Goodwood, with Formula I front end, including suspension, brakes, and engine, while the rear end was a 1957 Testa Rossa one-piece axle suspended on coil-springs, the gearbox being attached to the engine. This four-speed unit is new for the V6 sports car and has been designed to fit the 250 Gran Turismo competition V12 as well. There was no serious opposition to Musso except the conditions, for it was now quite hot and in many places the circuit was disintegrating, und Cabianca’s swift 40 laps had spread a good deal of gravel about the place. In addition, Musso had 15 other cars on the track and all big ones, so his task of beating Cabianca’s time was not going to he easy. There were three 1957 Testa Rossa four-cylinder Ferraris driven by Munaron, Cortese and Conan-Doyle, seven 200S four-cylinder Maseratis, driven by Bonnier, Bordoni, Norinden, Perella, Boffa, Negri and Govoni, three early A6G six-cylinder Maseratis in the hands of Bellucci, Wall and Lopez, and two home-made “specials,” one with an Aurelia engine, the other with a 1900 Alfa-Romeo engine, so it could be seen that Musso was going to have some pretty heavy traffic to get through during his 40 laps on the narrow 2.5-kilometre circuit.
The new Ferrari shot off into the lead, with Bonnier and Boffa in pursuit, while much of the “traffic” at the back indulged in some bumping and boring, Bellucci and Wall dropping out early. In his determination to beat Cabianca’s time, Musso overdid things and spun twice, the second time entailing a stop at the pits to change the two left-side wheels, while the tail and exhaust pipe on that side were badly crumpled. This dropped him back down the field and left Bonnier out in front, with Boffa always about 100 yards behind him, Musso, now in fourth place, was trying desperately to catch up again but the conditions prevented any hope of improving on Cabianca’s time, for the circuit was now covered in loose gravel and melting tar, and on lap 22 the Ferrari clutch packed up and Musso’s hopeless task came to an end. Bonnier toured his way round cautiously, intent on winning the 2-litre class and not worrying about the overall classification, while the other runners went round at varying speeds depending on how frightened they were of spinning off into the stone walls and large trees that line this exciting little street-circuit.
2,000 c.c. – 40 laps – 100 kms :
1st: J. Bonnier (Maserati 200S) … 1 hr. 05 min. 52.1 sec. – 90.083 k.p.h.
2nd: M. Boffa (Maserati 200S) … 1 hr. 06 min. 00.0 sec.
3rd: A. Negri (Maserati 200S) … 1 hr. 06 min. 54.4 sec.
Fastest lap : L. Musso (Ferrari V6), 1 min. 29.7 sec. – 100.132 k.p.h.
So the outcome was that on General Classification Cabianca with his 1,500-c.c. Osca was the winner and fastest lap holder, while the two 1,100-c.c. Oscas of Scarfotti and Bini were second and third, respectively. On such a circuit as Posillipo, which calls for “cars for courses,” the small Oscas are doing to Maserati and Ferrari what Lotus and Cooper are doing to Aston Martin and B.R.M. in England. All we want to see now is a race on a similar small circuit between the best Oscas and the best Lotuses, and it would be nice if it could happen at Imola, which is an idea 1,500-c.c. circuit. Although Musso could not beat Cabianca’s fastest lap in the race due to the loose gravel and the “traffic,” in practice he could not beat the little Osca either, when conditions were equal for all, the Osca recording 1 min. 30 sec. and the Ferrari 1 min 30.8 sec.-D.S.J.