A Triumph for Trintignant
Pau, France, April 23rd
The Automobile Club Basco-Bearnais gathered togetner a first-class entry for their traditional Easter Monday Grand Prix round the streets of Pau. Eschewing the BARC Goodwood meeting Team Lotus entered both their Formula One drivers: Clark with the new Coventry-Climax V8-engined car that was successful at Snetterton, and Trevor Taylor with a brand new 1962 works car, made ready for a BRM V8 engine, but forced by non-delivery to use a 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax engine. The Scuderia Ferrari entered Rodriguez and Bandini, the former with a 120-degree engine and the latter with a 65-degree engine, both chassis being identical and the interim 1962 type, which is still with the 6-speed gearbox behind the axle. Brabham was making his first appearance with a Lotus, albeit with only a 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax engine, and another first appearance was Lewis with his V8 BRM, similar in mechanical respect to that of Marsh, who was also entered. Rob Walker, like Colin Chapman, also decided Pau was a better thing than Goodwood, so he lent his V8 Lotus-Climax to UDT-Laystall, who responded by lending Team Walker one of their old 4-cylinder Lotus-Climax cars and Walker took on Trintignant as driver, altogether a very amicable arrangement. The Porsche factory entered one of their old cars for Ludwig Heimrath to drive, he being a German-born Canadian who qualified for this drive in a race in Canada last year. With the flat-8 works Porsches still not ready Bonnier was once more on loan to the Scuderia Venezia, leading team-mate Vaccarella. To complete the field of 18 there was Bianchi With the ENB-Maserati, considerably tidied up since Bruxelles, and with a shorter nose cowling; Ian Burgess with the Anglo-American Equipe’s new car, which has a new chassis frame on Cooper lines, but much narrower; Cooper-like suspension all-round but with different geometry, and radiators on each side of the rear-mounted engine so that the nose of the car had the smallest aperture to let air into an oil cooler. The water radiators took air from scoops on each side of the narrow body, and the Climax engine had twin exhaust pipes. Siffert took delivery of his new Lotus-Climax, the one Taylor had borrowed for Bruxelles, but it now had another engine and a V8-type bodywork painted orange. The Swiss driver Caillet was making a first appearance with his Cegga-Maserati, a very nicely made car on conventional Formula One lines, with all-round independent suspension, tubular chassis frame and rear-mounted 4-cylinder Maserati engine and 5-speed gearbox/differential unit as used on the V12 Maserati “birdcage” sports car. Cegga is derived from Claude et Georges Gachnang, Aigle, the two brothers who built the car and the Swiss town where they live. Finally, there was the German F3 and Junior exponent Kurt Kuhnke with an early rear-engined Lotus, Schiller with his ex-works Porsche and Schlesser, making his return to Formula One with his old Cooper.
There were all the makings of an interesting race, over 100 laps of the tortuous Pau circuit, with its 14 corners per lap, for Clark was familiar with the course but the V8 Lotus was still rather new; two Ferraris are always to be reckoned with, though Rodriguez was new to Pau, but not to the Ferrari, and Bandini was having his first drive in a GP Ferrari, but finished third last year at Pau. Brabham was no newcomer to the circuit but it was his first drive in a Lotus and the same applied to Trintignant, both having lots of Cooper experience. Bonnier’s second at Bruxelles and third at Snetterton were indicative that he should not be overlooked and the two BRMs of Lewis and Marsh held much in store, both drivers knowing the circuit well.
The first practice, on Saturday afternoon, saw as spectators Brabham, Taylor, and Siffert, the Australian’s transporter not having arrived and the other two still waiting for their cars to he finished. In brilliant sunshine drivers adapted themselves to the cars, or their cars to the circuit, and first to become acclimatised was Trintignant who was soon lapping close to the existing lap record of 1 min 34.1 sec, set up by Jim Clark last year with a 1960 Lotus. Marsh did not get far as the rotor arm of his transistor ignition system fouled its casing and broke, while Lewis in the other BRM was going steadily and getting used to using lots of rpm. The two Ferrari drivers were trying hard, even to the extent of going up an escape road while finding the limit of braking and Bonnier was charging round in the Venezia Porsche, still being amazed at the way a three-year-old car could go. The V8 Lotus was overheating a bit, as the ambient temperature was very high, so the engine hatch was removed and Clark began motoring to good effect; however, Trintignant was in terrific form and was the first to improve on the existing record, with a time of 1 min 33.9 sec, much to the joy of the French crowd and Rob Walker, and this with an old 4-cylinder Lotus-Climax that UDT-Laystall had almost been ready to scrap. Nobody else was near this time until Clark began to get the new Lotus going and he then made even Trintignant’s efforts look puny, for he went round in. 1 mm. 32.5 sec. The day ended with the BRM V8 of Lewis losing a sump bolt and spreading all its oil round the circuit.
On Sunday the weather was cool and overcast and absolutely right for fast motoring and everyone began to show an improvement. The works Lotus-Climax V8 had wire-mesh panels in the sides of the engine hatch, and Taylor’s car was finished, though when practice started Siffert was in the paddock still finishing off his throttle connections. Marsh had repaired his broken ignition rotor with “Araldite,” Lewis was still trying to devise a means for fixing his stub exhausts securely and the Ferrari team were very happy with their cars, and were waiting for results from their two new young drivers. Kuhnke was ruled out with his old Lotus for being too slow and baulking other drivers, and Caillet in the Cegga-Maserati was outclassed with his sports engine. Brabham’s new Lotus-Climax was all right and the Australian took no time at all to get accustomed to it and was soon turning some very fast laps, but Jim Clark was the star of the day for though the V8 Climax engine was “spluttery” on its carburation he began to lap at a phenomenal speed and turned a number of laps at under 1 min 31 sec, his best being 1 min 30.6 sec. Conditions were clearly ideal, for everyone improved on their previous times and Rodriguez, Bandini, Brabham, Trintignant, Bonnier, Marsh and Lewis all got below the existing lap record. This was reasonable for those with new cars, for Clark set the record at the beginning of 1961 with a 1960 works Lotus-Climax, that was in fact an old F2 car, So that since then there has been not only a season’s development, but entirely new designs of cars and engines. All the times shown in the starting grid were put up on this second day of practice.
It was warm on Easter Monday, with hazy cloud over the sun as the cars came out for the start and those who wanted to were allowed 10 minutes of free practice time„ before lining up on the grid. Brabham was in trouble with low oil pressure and Trevor Taylor’s car was not running properly but there was no time to do much to either of them for the start was given promptly at 2.30 pm. Vaccarella was left on the line, having difficulty in getting into first gear, but the rest roared away with the front row of Clark, Bonnier and Rodriguez all waiting for each other to take the lead and set the pace. At the end of lap one these three came by almost abreast, with Rodriguez slightly in the lead from Bonnier and Clark, but they were all still being cagey. Brabham was keeping station with them, followed by Marsh and Trintignant and they remained the same for lap two. Clark had expected Rodriguez to fly out in front, using all the road, to set the pace, and Bonnier expected Clark to do likewise, but they were all behaving themselves until the third lap, when Clark decided to speed things up a bit, and went by Bonnier. Brabham’s oil pressure was falling fast and Trintignant and Bandini went by him and Marsh. On lap five Clark was right behind the leading Ferrari, Brabham disappeared out on the circuit and Lewis overtook Marsh, while the rest of the field were already getting left behind, being led by Heimrath in the works Porsche. At the end of the opening lap Taylor had stopped at the pits with trouble in the distributor and began a series of faltering laps and long pit-stops while everything was changed or altered. On lap nine Clark took the lead from Rodriguez, but in the meantime Trintignant had closed up on Bonnier and the two of them had closed up in the leaders so that lap 10 saw Clark (Lotus), Rodriguez (Ferrari), Bonnier (Porsche) and Trintignant (Lotus) all nose-to-tail, while Lewis was pressing Bandini quite hard, in fact sufficient to make him spin off into the straw bales on the next lap; the Ferrari appearing a bit late with straw all over the rear suspension. On lap 12 Trintignant nipped by Bonnier and it was obvious that the little Frenchman was out to race hard, for no sooner had he done this than he was up with Rodriguez and was vying for second place, which he took on the very next lap to the accompaniment of cheers from the crowd. Even this did not satisfy Monsieur le Maire, and on lap 14 he was right behind Clark and the two of them had dropped the Ferrari. and Porsche. On lap 16 excitement reached fever pitch for Trintignant got by the V8 Lotus and the next lap Clark had lost some ground and it was clear that all was not well. The gearchanging mechanism on the works Lotus was playing up and Clark was not at all happy, though he was staying well ahead of Rodriguez and Bonnier. The incredible Trintignant, driving in his first race this year and the first time in a Lotus, was looking most comfortable out in front and all this excitement had overshadowed the rest-of the field, the tail-enders being lapped. Lewis was firmly in fifth place, having out-distanced Bandini, while Marsh was not so happy though running steadily, then came Siffert in his orange Lotus, he having passed Heimrath, and they were followed by Vaccarella who had pulled up well after his bad start. Schiller, Bianchi and Burgess were in close company, while Schlesser was bringing up the rear, apart from Taylor who was still doing the odd lap now and then, in between ignition overhauls. Rodriguez was already showing signs of tiring and Bonnier overtook him, while the gap between the Porsche and the two leaders had widened considerably. On lap 24 Trintignant came round alone, with no sign of Jimmy Clark and it was not until Bonnier and Rodriguez had gone by that the V8 Lotus-Climax appeared, and it came into the pits with no means of changing gear. A bearer bracket for the gear-change rod had torn from its brazing and fallen off so an otherwise healthy car had to be withdrawn. This left ‘Trintignant 17 seconds in front of Bonnier and by lap 30 he had increased this to 20 seconds and there was clearly nobody to challenge him. Heimrath spun the works Porsche going through the Casino gardens and wrote the front end off on some ornamental rocks, and Taylor’s car was beginning to show signs of running properly at last.
Lewis was settling in well with his V8 BRM and driving a very regular race and had closed up on Rodriguez so that only 5 seconds covered the second, third and fourth cars, but none of them could close on Trintignant who was lapping consistently at 1 min 35 sec. At 40 laps Trintignant had increased his lead to 25 seconds, but Bonnier had pulled away from the Ferrari and BRM who were now nose-to-tail. Through the twisty bits Lewis was right on the Ferrari tail but along the bottom straight the red car drew away everytime. At half-distance the order was unchanged, with Bonnier’s red Porsche 27 seconds behind the dark blue Lotus; three seconds later came Rodriguez with Lewis still 2 seconds behind and looking very relaxed, whereas the young Mexican boy was looking hot and tired. In fifth place was Bandini in the 65-degree Ferrari, just about to be lapped by Trintignant, the rest of the field having been lapped once or even twice.
Just when it was expected that Trintignant would lap Bandini, the Lotus dropped back, its driver showing signs of distress with the gear-lever, and Bonnier rapidly closed the gap to 20 seconds. Trintignant was unable to get into the lower gears and was having to take the hairpins in 3rd gear, but he pressed on gamely, while the red Porsche drew relentlessly closer, the gap narrowing from 20 seconds, to 16, to 12, to 7 seconds. By lap 60 things were looking desperate and by lap 65 the gap was down to 5 seconds and there was a terrible traffic jam going on. Marsh was trying to get by Bandini, to take fifth place, Trintignant was trying to lap both of them and they were all trying to lap Vaccarella in the red Lotus. On lap 67 Trintignant suddenly found he could get all five gears again and in a flash he was past the traffic and gained a second a lap on Bonnier immediately. On lap 70 the gallant Frenchman came round alone, another opponent having fallen by the wayside for Bonnier drew into the pits after Rodriguez and Lewis had gone by; the Porsche gearbox having broken. Trintignant’s trouble had been with the lever inter-lock mechanism on the gear-gate and it was now all right again and he soon had a commanding lead over the two young lads who were second and third, everyone else having been lapped. During all this excitement Marsh had displaced Bandini so the order was now Lotus, Ferrari, BRM V8, BRM V8, Ferrari, the rest being a long way behind.
It was now all over and just a question of seeing if the Lotus could hold out mechanically for the remainder of the 100 laps, for the driver looked remarkably at ease in spite of his 44 years. The issue between Lewis and Rodriguez had reached stalemate, the BRM could close up on the corners but got left behind on the straight and Lewis was not pressing hard enough to make Rodriguez do anything silly, even though he was getting very tired. Marsh was firmly in fourth place a lap behind the leader and Bandini was running steadily in fifth place. Then came Siffert going very well in his first drive in a Formula One car and he was followed by Vaccarella, Burgess, Schiller and Schlesser, with Trevor Taylor now going properly but many laps behind. The whole issue seemed settled when Siffert’s Lotus-Climax had gearbox trouble and while limping round in top gear he was passed by Vaccarella, and in that order the twenty-second Pau GP ran to a close with Trintignant not only a most popular winner, but a most praiseworthy one even his rivals were pleased at his victory. To the Walker Team it was an undreamt of success and complete justification for choosing Pau in preference to Goodwood. The news of the unfortunate accident to Stirling Moss in the V8 Lotus-Climax on loan to UDT-Laystall did not filter through until the rejoicing at Trintignant’s victory had subsided.—DSJ.