Coopers dominate the race
Aintree, April 19th.
The Daily Mall-sponsored “International 200” turned out one of the most sensational long-distance races for many years. After Behra’s Goodwood crash and Moss’ engine failure it seemed that the field might be depleted. However, B.R.M. brought two 1957 cars to the practice session, the race number and a “T” being transposed from one to the other as Behra and Flockhart tried each car. Both were running without brake servos, the only cure Girling could suggest for the trouble which caused Behra’s nasty accident on Easter Monday. One B.R.M. developed magneto trouble and in any case it was intended only to start one car, in which Behra set a lap time of 1 min. 59.8 sec. Alf Francis had been busy since Goodwood. Having a set of experimental over-size pistons and liners for a Climax engine, 0.9 mm, larger than those of the 1,960-c.c. engine, he assembled a new 2,010-c.c. power unit for Moss’ Cooper. With this still stiff Moss did 2 min. 0.6 sec., a time 0.4 sec, slower than Salvadori’s works 1,960-c.c. Cooper. Fourth fastest was Brabham’s works Cooper, in 2 min. 1.2 sec.
The field comprised these cars, Ballisat’s 2-litre Cooper, Schell in Brown’s F II Cooper under the Owen entry, his B.R.M. being u available, three 250F Maseratis, several Connaughts, and lots of F ll Coopers, of which Walker’s pair, in the hands of Trintignant and Brooks, had the older, transverse spring i.f.s., as well as the two Team Lotus F ll cars. Lewis-Evans was fastest of the F ll contingent in practice, in the British Racing Partnership Cooper (2 min. 4.4 sec.), Hill’s Lotus next (2 min. 6.0 sec).
As the flag fell Moss got away splendidly, followed by Behra and Salvadori. Brabham soon passed Salvadori and after six of the 67 laps Moss led by 4 sec, from the B.R.M., Brabham’s Cooper closing on Behra. Although Behra still expresses himself as very happy in a B.R.M. he couldn’t hold off Brabham, who took second place on lap 10. The French driver re-took second place on lap 20 but kept looking back to see how much he had pulled out over the Cooper, while Moss, lapping car after car, had a very secure lead.
On lap 28 Behra came round Tatt’s Corner with Brabham on his tail and pulled sharply across to the pits, where he retired with the brake fluid on the boil. The leaders at 35 laps were Moss, Salvadori, Brabham, a brief pit-stop on the 31st lap having cost Brabbam second place. Moss had a 50-sec, lead and was easing up. Behind the leading trio Brooks, driving the F ll Cooper impeccably –– in practice he had broken a gearbox shaft –– more work for Alf! –– had disposed of Hill’s Lotus after a great struggle, amd Lewis-Evans was a steady sixth.
Now, with the race more than half over, interest might well have wained, had it not become obvious to the more intelligent spectators that all was not well with the leading Coopers. Salvadori was closing the gap between his car and Moss’, the latter in obvious trouble. Apart from overheating Stirling was fast on laps when he had a clear run, slow if he had to negotiate “traffic,” because he was nursing a clutch which was ready to refuse to grip at any moment. Both the Lotus made brief calls at their pits, but Schell’s Cooper held sixth place ahead of Scott-Brown’s Connaught. Brahham was also troubled with a slipping clutch and his engine wasn’t happy. Salvadori, too, had clutch trouble and on lap 51 lost second place to the Australian.
All eyes were now on Moss, who had sIowed very considerably and caused consternation by sometimes coming close in to the pits, giving the “come past” signal to other drivers. Brooks was now going magnificently in Walker’s 1-1/2-litre Cooper, closing on Salvadori and taking third place on lap 63. At this late stage in the race Moss in No. 7 Cooper, which was boiling like a kettle, was a mere 13 sec. ahead of Brabham and since lap 55, when the gap had been just over 30 sec., it appeared possible for Brabham to win. However, John Cooper seemed reluctant to speed up the Australian, and for some laps thereafter Moss kept the distance between the leading Coopers the same. Now, with four laps remaining, Brabham was closing rapidly on Stirling, whose car was clearly very sick indeed. The small but enthusiastic crowd of spectators at Aintree’s well-equipped, if sombre circuit on this cold but dry afternoon, rose to their feet to witness the drama of the closing laps. On the last lap it appeared that Brabham would catch Moss. As the two Coopers came down to Tatt’s Corner for the last time in this 201-mile race Brabham made to overtake Moss. Stirling was on the inside and, scorning to brake, went into this r.h. corner to tail-slide across Brabham’s nose
Branham, also tail-sliding, recovered, cut onto the inside and accelerated for all he was worth out of the corner to the finish. Moss, too, had his foot hard down. Would his clutch now refuse him? It held, and Moss crossed the line fractionally ahead of Brabham, by what the time-keeping pundits said later was one-fifth of a second! Mrs. Topham said Moss always gives them a thrill at Aintree and this he had certainly done, recalling similar sensational E.R.A./Maserati finishes at Brooklands. Ruefully, sportsman Jack Brabham told the excited crowd, “I put my brakes on. Wasn’t it silly of me?”
Rob Walker must have enjoyed his “200” when able to relax, for Moss won it for him. Brooks won the F ll category and Trintignant’s F ll Cooper finished, sounding as crisp as at the start. On lap 47 Brian Naylor suffered a very nasty accident, his Cooper getting into difficulties at Melling Crossing and dragging him, half out of the cockpit, for a long distance before it came to rest with the offside back wheel hanging loose. (The time taken by the ambulance to reach hospital must constitute a record.) The mechanical casualties are listed with thiu results:
Aintree “International 200” – Formula 1 and II – 67 Laps – 201 Miles – Cold and Dry
1st: S. Moss (2,010-c.c. Cooper) … 2 hr. 20 min. 47.0 sec. – 85.66 m.p.h.
2nd: J. Brabham (1,960-c.c. Cooper) … 2 hr. 20 min. 47.2 sec.
3rd: C. A. S. Brooks (I.475.c,c. Cooper) … 2 hr. 21 min. 52.2 sec.
4th: R. Salvadori (1,960-c.c. Cooper) … 2 hr. 22 min. 15.0 sec
5th: S. Lewis-Evans (1,475-c.c. Cooper) … 2 hr. 22 min. 58.0 sec.
6th: H. Schell (1,475-c.c. Cooper) … 66 laps
Fastest lap: J. Brabham (Cooper) 2 min. 1.4 sec, – 88.96 m.p.h.
F II winner: C.A.S. A. Brooks (Cooper) … 2 hr. 21 min. 52.2 sec.
Fastest F II lap: C.A.S. Brooks. (Cooper). in 2 min 4.4 sec, – 86.822 m.p.h.
Retired: K. Campbell (Maserati, three laps, broken oil pipe; A. Marsh (Cooper), four laps; G. Wicken (Cooper), seven laps, gear-change; V. Edwards, (Connaught), nine laps, spun; K. Ballisat (Cooper), 11 laps., gearbox; R.H. Parnell (Cooper), suspension; B. Halford (Maserati), 16 laps, puncture; K. Kavanagh (Maserati), 21 laps; J. Behra (B.R.M.), 27 laps, brakes; D. Shale (Cooper),33 laps; R. Naylor (Cooper), 37 laps, crash; I. Bueb, (Cooper). 51 laps.
As supporting races there were up-to-1,100 c.c. and over-1,1011 c.c. sports-car races and a saloon car race. In the big sports-car race the works Aston Martin DBR2s, of 3,901 c.c., were driven by Salvadori and Brooks. In practice they were equally fast with different axle ratios, setting Reg. Parnell a pretty problem. Scott-Brown’s 3.8 Lister-Jaguar and Masten Gregory’s Ecurie Ecosse 3.8 ListerJaguar also got round in the same time (2 min. 5.2 sec.), while the remarkable 1.9-litre Lotus 15s of Hill and Allison did 2 min. 7 sec. and 2 min. 7.2 sec. Overnight the axle-ratios of the Astons and Scott-Brown’s Lister were changed.
Archie got away at the start, to lead all the way, pulling out a comfortable margin. Gregory’s Lister-Jaguar was second until overtaken by Salvadori on lap six of this 17-lap race. Brooks had overtaken Salvadori on lap four but thereafter fell back, to retire with clutch trouble. The Lotus 15s should have been amongst the big stuff but Allison’s was shunted at the start, time being lost because the rear of the body was badly damaged, while Hill couldn’t find the cogs when they were wanted. It wasn’t Allison’s day because he nearly didn’t start even before the shunt, the rotor-arm giving trouble on the line. However, he had the consolation of setting a new class lap-record of 85.58 m.p.h., Salvadori setting a new 3-litre sports-car lap-record of 87.38 m.p.h.
Scott-Brown, easing up towards the end, won by 1.4 sec., at 86.1 m.p.h., from Salvadori and Gregory, Bueb bringing the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar-D in fourth, ahead of Mairesse’s yellow Testa Rossa Ferrari and spectacular Duncan Hamilton in his Jaguar-D.
Lotus got some satisfaction at Aintree. Hall winning the small sports-car race over 17 laps at 81.61 m.p.h. from Dickson’s Lotus and Mackenzie Low’s Elva, after Stacey’s Lotus, in the lead for nine laps, overheated.
The 10-lap Saloon Car race should have been in Sopwith’s pocket but his very fast 3.4 Jaguar retired when the Dunlop disc brakes went up in smoke, allowing Sir Gawaine Baillie’s 3.4 wire-wheeled Jaguar to win by 1.6 sec., at 70.94 m.p.h. from Flockhart, who made excellent progress in spite of a spin in Coombs’ drum-braked 3.4 Jaguar. Blond kept his 2.4 Jaguar ahead of Manduca’s Alfa Romeo 1900 to win the up-to-2,600-c.c. section and Foster in Jacobs’ M.G. Magnette beat the furiously duelling 1.5 Riley’s of Grace and Leston to gain the up-to-1,600-c.c. class, the M.G. also vanquishing the Alfa Romeo. Eversley (Hillman Minx) spent his race indulging in spins at almost every corner! ––W. B.