The first of the French Formula II races provides much of interest. The Pau GP which took place on Easter Monday was the first of the series of eight events to count for the French Grand Prix and was comfortably won by Ascari with a new four-cylinder Ferrari.
Most of the eighteen entries were out for the first practice session and there were five new Ferraris present, Ascari and Villoresi driving the “works” cars, with one to spare, and Rosier and Rudolph Fischer driving privately owned cars. These new four-cylinders were all fitted with a neat arrangement of four Tipo 45 DOE Weber carburetters, one to each port, and both the body of the carburetter and the float chamber were rubber mounted to avoid any effects from the inevitable roughness of the four-cylinder engine. The “works” cars were fitted with four short stub exhausts and the other two had normal tail pipes. All the cars were the four-speed de Dion chassis models as perfected last year and had new nose cowlings with the radiator mounted further forward, while the scuttle ventilator fed cooling air down two tubes to the twin magnetos mounted behind the bulkhead. The second car of Rosier’s newly formed equipe, the “Ecurie Ferrari France,” was a de Dion chassis 12-cylinder car driven by Trintignant. Fischer was driving for the “Ecurie Espadon.”
Three new HWMs were present, driven by Lance Macklin, Peter Collins and Yves Girand-Cabantous, but the first practice periods found them in trouble with oil surge in the dry-sump tank building up too much pressure. However, this was efficiently cured and the second practice period saw Macklin’s time of 1 min 46.4 sec, bettered only by the two “works” Ferraris. The HWMs were using differentials for the first time to transmit their 150 bhp, and the drivers were taking some time to develop the necessary new driving technique.
The Simca team only appeared for the second practice period, Manzon, Behra and Bira using last year’s 1,500-cc cars with twin Solex carburetters but with improved brakes. The Belgian John Claes also had one of last year’s twin-cam 1,500-cc cars as a private entry. It was hoped that the new 2-litre Simca-Gordini would be ready but, although it did some unofficial practising, it was not au point. Bira blew up one of the cars, so could not start on the day. The new car, a six-cylinder 2-litre with six carburetters and twin ohc similar to the four-cylinders, resembled the 1951 cars externally, though somewhat cleaner of line, and with a new type of suspension all round.
Baron de Graffenried and Nello Pagani were driving Maserati-Plate Cars, these being Enrico Plate’s 4CLT Maseratis shortened in the chassis by 15 cms, using Maserati engines modified by him with new cranks, rods, pistons, camshafts, etc, giving 2 litres and fitted with two double-choke Weber 35 DCO carburetters. Suspension and axle details remained unchanged and new shortened nose cowlings were fitted. The cars ran well and were impressive by their quietness. Graffenried was practising particularly rapidly and recorded fourth fastest time. The rest of the field of 18 was made up by Hans Stuck with the V8 AFM, also using stub exhausts; Ellie Bayol with a 1,350-cc Osca, and Eugene Martin with his Jicey. Martin’s car was the special with the rivetted sheet dural chassis, Lancia front suspension and rubber-band, wishbone suspension at the rear, that was built in France in very small numbers shortly after the war. He has fitted a single ohc six-cylinder Veritas engine, with three downdraught Solex carburetters and a five-speed Veritas gearbox. He was late in arriving and practised on the morning of the race, together with Piero Scotti, who had arrived in a Gran Turismo Lancia Aurelia to drive the third “works” Ferrari.
As the cars were wheeled up to the line, with the exception of Bira’s Simca, it was found that Collins’ HWM had split a brake-pipe and only a temporary repair could be made. From the front row Macklin held second place on the first lap, behind Ascari, and then dropped to third place, which he held for 12 laps : although he could not hold Ascari, who was forging ahead in masterly style, he was pushing Villoresi quite hard. A similar trouble to Collins brought him into the pits and left the two “works” Ferraris in complete command, with Graffenried running third, but, he was eventually passed by Rosier. Macklin restarted after a brake pipe had been fitted from Cabantous’ car, which had retired quite early with a seized rear brake, and proceeded to lap within two seconds of Ascari’s times, the car going in a most impressive manner and being driven in impeccable style. Collins eventually had to give up an unequal struggle against no brakes, and it looked as though the new four-cylinder Ferraris were going to finish 1-2-3. Shortly after three quarters of the three hours had gone Villoresi slid on a patch of oil and struck the kerb with his off-side rear wheel, buckling it and retiring at the pits. At the same time Manzon, who was going very quickly after a long delay at the pits, also spun on the oil and hit a concrete wall head on, but did not suffer very serious hurt, though the car was wrecked.
Fischer had retired very early with a split oil pipe and Pagani’s Maserati made an awful noise. Claes went slower and slower and finally came to rest, and Stuck and Trintignant were going spasmodically. Graffenried, who had been driving surprisingly well, had his Maserati go sick and limped through the remainder of the three hours, while Martin’s Jicey showed a surprising turn of speed to make up for early stops. Bayol went round and round very regularly to finish fourth, and the motor-cyclist from Nice, Jean Behra, drove his “works” Simca well to push Hosier right to the end. Ascari had given as fine a display of high-speed motoring as anyone could wish to see and lapped everyone, even Villoresi before he retired. It was thought that the “works” four-cylinder Ferrari, described as the “Starlet,” was giving 175-180 bhp at 7,000 rpm Scotti did not make a very impressive show on his entry into the team. He spun round on the second lap, causing some consternation, and then drove very wildly for a few laps before retiring.
Ibsley : Hawthorn again supreme.
The lbsley races on April 19th were a credit to the West Hants and Dorset CC. Hawthorn and his Cooper-Bristol repeated their Easter successes. The car has a compression ratio of 9 to 1 and with the three Solex carburetters is developing 125 bhp at the gearbox. The axle-ratio at Goodwood and lbsley was 3.645 to 1. The car was purchased by Bob Chase and is tuned by Hawthorn’s father. It won the 311/2 mile Formula II race comfortably from a hard-working Abecassis whose HWM was more of a handful on corners and was suffering from chronic wheel-spin. Murray’s V12 2-litre Ferrari was third. Hawthorn then won the 21-mile Formula Libre race at 75.1 mph from AG Whitehead’s ERA, which was being driven really fast. Duncan Hamilton was third in the HWM. In the-last Handicap Duncan Hamilton actually passed the Cooper-Bristol, only to coast-in with a useless back axle, no doubt an aftermath of the uncontrolled wheel-spin. Hawthorn made fastest lap, at 77.2 mph, but Barber’s Cooper 1,100 won, at 74.3 mph, from Allard’s TT Allard and Whitehead’s ERA.
Mayers’ Lester-MG, lapping at 68.5 led Davis’ Cooper-MG home by 6.4 sec in the seven-lap 11/2-litre sports-car race. After Headland’s Kieft had won one five-lap 500 cc heat, Truman’s Cooper the next, the half-litre 311/2-mile Final went to Headland, at 69.8 mph, with a lap at 71.7 mph, second place being snatched by Don Parker’s Kieft, a wheel ahead of Martin’s Cooper. Lt-Col. Head’s Jaguar won a 10-lap handicap at 68 mph from Black’s Jaguar and Lewis’ “2.6” Alfa-Romeo, the “medium” sports-car seven-lap race went to Poore in the rather shabby TT DB 3 Aston-Martin at 71.9 mph, with a resounding lap at 73.24 mph, and the over 3-litre sports-car race to Allard, at 69.8 mph, from Moore’s HWM Jaguar and Sir Scott-Douglas Bt, in an Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar, Sydney lapping at 71.3 mph. The Vintage race fell to Major Bailey’s 41/2 Bentley, and some rather “mucked abart” Bentleys contested their own race, won by D McKenzie’s smoky 41/2, at 61.8 mph. There were a few minor prangs, but no casualties and the West Hants and Dorset CC can proudly chalk-up another first-class meeting.—WB.
The new Secretary of the Half-litre Club is Ken Carter, 100 Station Road, Sidcup, Kent (Footscray 4318). Their next Brands Hatch meeting is a closed fixture on May 18th. Racing will commence at 2 pm. Entries have closed.