Pre-war E.R.A. beats latest Maseratis at Jersey. Raymond Mays (E.R.A.) a gallant third less than fifty seconds behind de Graffenreid’s Maserati.
Bob Gerard won the Jersey Road Race last Thursday in his E.R.A. in spite of early opposition from the latest two-stage Maseratis and a two-stage Ferrari. He got the lead comparatively late in the race and held it to the end, driving magnificently under appalling weather conditions, which reduced his average to 77.1 m.p.h. compared to 87.33 m.p.h. when he won last year. Baron de Graffenreid came home second in his Maserati, 1 min. 46 sec. later, while Mays was third in his D-type E.R.A. 40.6 sec. behind.
In practice K. W. Bear’s Bugatti crashed at Le Marquand’s Corner, the driver sustaining fatal injuries. Other non-starters were Baring’s Maserati with a cracked head, Johnson’s E-type E.R.A. which, after lapping at 93.21 m.p.h., broke a piston, Cholton’s C.D.L. (which was flown in an Aerovan), Watson’s Ferrari, Claes’ Talbot and Logan’s Cooper, Oscar Moore had trouble with his O.B.M.
So bad was the weather, mist floating over the road and rain falling, that the start was postponed half-an-hour. The road had then dried somewhat, but soon heavy rain was falling. Villoresi was all smiles and he, with “Bira” and Chiron, were in the front row on the grid by reason of their practice times, these being 96, 94 and 93.20 m.p.h.
As the flag fell the pack of red, blue and green cars, and Mays’ black E.R.A.. howled off in a hurry of spray and spinning wheels, and it was Chiron’s Talbot, displaying fine acceleration, which thrust ahead, with Parnell’s Maserati coming up fast from the second row. However, by the time Le Marquand’s Corner was reached, although Chiron was still out in front, “Bira” was second, de Graffenreid third, Parnell fourth, Villoresi fifth, with Whitehead’s Ferrari well up. Before Millbrook corner “Bira” had passd Chiron to lead lap one, which he accomplished at 82.16 m.p.h., Villoresi now about ten lengths behind him and Chiron third, hard-pressed by Parnell. On the second lap Villoresi in the very latest 16-valve Maserati passed “Bira.” The next round the leaders held the same order. Villoresi lapping at 90 m.p.h., fastest of the day, Chiron third, Parnell fourth, and behind came de Graffenreid, Whitehead, Mays, Bolster, Gerard, Ashmore, Nixon, Bob Ansell, Hampshire, Hamilton, Murray, G. Ansell. Le Gallais, whose Talbot had lost top gear in practice, and Heath.
Then came the first retirement, Parnell’s Maserati experiencing petrol pump trouble. Heath’s Alta had been to its pit, so that “Bira” lapped it, and then Villoresi, in the fastest car in the race, came in to have the plugs changed, getting out of the car before he was ready to continue. Abecassis’ G.P. Alta was an early casualty, with back-axle trouble, and so the leaders and potential leaders fell back and the race settled down, drivers treating the corners with respect on the slippery road, cascades of water from the car’s tyres making passing a hazadous business and reducing the speed of the race.
Heath came into his pit again, Le Gallais suffered wheel wobble and many vicious slides were seen at the corners of Jersey’s give-and-take 3.2 mile circuit, of which 55 laps had to be covered. Chiron experienced the trouble which put him out at Silverstone last year, the Talbot’s offside rear brake locking-on on corners. After 25 laps “Bira’s” Maserati still led, at 82 m.p.h., but Gerard had driven calmly and skilfully into second place, with de Graffenreid’s Maserati third and Bolster’s E.R.A. fourth. “Bira” was driving cautiously in the wet and, from signals he gave, he did not seem entirely happy, although the “San Remo” Maserati had nearly a lap’s lead from Gerard. The course was now distinctly slippery and amongst those who gyrated was Murray in the Maserati which Parnell drove to victory in 1947. At Le Marquand’s corner Villoresi cut close to the inside, but “Bira” preferred a wider course.
Excitement was intense when on his 29th lap “Bira” made his routine pit-stop. He leapt out, the bonnet was flung up for Holgate to test the plugs with a wetted finger while fuel was flung in. “Bira” wiped his vizor and adjusted his crash hat before resuming the cockpit and meanwhile Gerard and de Graffenreid both went by, the former now leading the race with some 600 yards in hand.
Villoresi was again in his pit, with further ignition trouble, while Hamilton’s older Maserati stopped on the far side of the circuit, conveniently by a garage! After 27 laps, Gerard was 22 sec, ahead of de Graffenreid and had averaged 75.79 m.p.h. Mays, his “Hill-Climb” E.R.A. with 1 1/2-litre engine going like clockwork, now displaced Bolster for fourth position, the latter’s E.R.A. having broken a valve.
Villoresi was now soaked and begrimed, but wouldn’t give up, blanking his radiator to try to improve his engine’s temper. Heath, too, was carrying on, crouched low over the Alta’s wheel. The leading green non-stop E.R.A. was lapping at 76.8 m.p.h., yet so heavy was the rain that the racing number had all but disappeared from the front of his rival’s Maserati. And so they ran on, the first four all on the same lap, but Gerard had about 300 yards clear lead from de Graffenreid. Whitehead, in the G.P. Ferrari, of which much was expected, had stopped to refuel and, never very fast, lost what advanatage he had earned, while Geoffrey Ansell, after a fine run, let Shawe-Taylor bring his E.R.A. in.
There was little furrther incident and the leaders’ posiitions remained unnchanged to the end. Villoresi drove superbly while he was motoring, but four stops cost him some seven minutes. The race was a great British Triumph, E.R.A. vanquishing five 4CTL two-stage Maseratis and a Ferrari
Lucas-equipped cars were 1st, 3rd and 5th.
1st. F. R. Gerard (E.R.A.) 2 hr. 16 min, 58.6 sec. 77.10 m.p.h.
2nd. Baron de Graffenreid (Maserati) 2 hr. 18 min. 39 2 sec. 76.16 m.p.h.
3rd. Raymond Mays (E.R..A.) 2 hr. 19 min. 25.8 sec. 75.73 m.p.h.
4th. “B. Bira” (Maserati) … 75.59 m.p.h.
5th. F. Ashmore (Maserati) … 75.35 m.p.h.
6th. L. Villoresi (Maserati): 7th. P. Whitehead (Ferrari): 8th. D. Hampshire (Maserati); 9th. R. E. Ansell (Maserati): 10th. D. Murray (Maserati): 11th. G. Ansell (E.R.A.); 12th. J. Heath (Alta).