The Bruxelles Grand Prix
Cooper And Porsche Share The Honours
Bruxelles, May 10th.
THE Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, together with the daily sporting paper Les Sports, brought a new lease of life to motor racing in Europe when they organised the Bruxelles G.P. on a true road circuit on the edge of the Capital city, in the suburb of Heysel. With so many organisers tending to veer away from true road racing and converting their circuits into closed tracks, this new Bruxelles race was a splendid revival meeting. The 4.522-kilometre circuit was situated just on the edge of the vast exhibition grounds to the north of the town and overlooked by the Atomium, which reared out of the trees and buildings like some horrible monster from space waiting to pounce on the racing fraternity, and used the approach roads and main roads of a gigantic intersection of two motor roads. Running north and south is a very wide boulevard, down the centre of which runs the Antwerp motor road, with open spaces on each side flanked by tram tracks and service roads, and it was on the westward service road that the pits and starting area were situated. To the north of this area another motor road runs west to east and passes under the Antwerp motor road, the two being joined by a clover-leaf system of one-way roads, and it was this motor road which formed part of the circuit, the Antwerp one being unaffected and remaining open to normal traffic. From the start the circuit runs slightly uphill to a climbing left-hand turn, disappearing between rows of houses and kerbstones; after a fast right-hand bend it continues to climb round a sharp left-hander and up to a right-hand hairpin which is followed by a plunge down and up again on a left-hand sweep which finishes at a very tight right-hand hairpin, bringing the circuit onto the west-to-east motor road. This road then goes steeply downhill on a very fast right-hand curve, under the Antwerp motor road, up the other side, to yet another right-hand hairpin, then on uphill round a fast left-hand bend, to arrive on the eastside service road parallel with the start and the Antwerp motor road. From this point a fast downhill straight runs parallel with the motor road for over 1½ kilometres to the double bridges where the serviceroads pass under the motor road. At the end of this fast straight the circuit takes an ess-bend round an island, drops steeply, and then turns sharp right under the bridges, up the other side and sharp right again to join the western service road and return to the start and finish. The pit area was completely separate from this road on a sort of by-pass or lay-by, with a wide area containing tram tracks between the circuit and the pits, so that any car pulling into the pits was well away from the main straight, which was an excellent arrangement.
Naturally enough, with this circuit being used for the first time, the first practice session on Friday afternoon saw everyone on an equal footing as regards learning the way round and adapting the cars to the conditions. Notable absentees on this first afternoon were Brabham, who was held up by fog in the Channel, and Gregory, whose Camoradi-entered Porsche was once more not ready to race, while of de Tomaso and his OSCA-Cooper there was no sign or sound. Lotus had two cars running, the original rear-engined one which Ireland and Clark were sharing and a brand new one that Stacey was driving, while Gendebien was breaking-in the Equipe National Belge’s new Cooper. Bristow was also breaking-in a rebuilt engine on his Yeoman Credit Cooper, but Schell, with the other Yeoman Credit car, was pressing-on happily and made second-best time to Moss with the dark blue Porsche, and Bonnier was finding out about the brand new silver Porsche of the factory team. It was interesting that Moss started lapping at 2 min. 21 sec. and in 10 laps got down to 2 min. 06 sec., while Ireland began at 2 min. 26.2 sec. and in the same number of laps got down to 2 min. 06.8 sec., and Schell needed 13 laps to get down to 2 min. 06.8 sec. Bonnier and Bristow were next fastest after Schell, followed by Bianchi, much to the chagrin of his Belgian team-mates, and Ireland was next, the rear-engined Lotus not being as impressive on this circuit as expected. Apart from indicating which drivers were quick to learn a circuit this first practice session did not see any very serious motoring, but the second session, on Saturday afternoon, was a different story for, apart from grid positions being decided, it also took the form of eliminating trials, for only 18 cars were being accepted out of the 21 that were present, practice lap times deciding who the unlucky ones were to be.
On the Saturday Brabham had arrived and was one of the first away, being remarkably quick at learning the way round, while another brand-new rear-engined Lotus arrived which was quickly earmarked for Ireland, the tired old prototype being put aside for new-boy Jimmy Clark to have eventually. In the Belgian Equipe there was a certain amount of prima-donna action going on after Bianchi’s 2 min. 08 sec. the previous day with their old Cooper, compared with Gendebien’s 2 min. 13.0 sec. with the new car and Frere’s 2 min. 09.2 sec. with the car he drove to victory in South Africa. The result was that Gendebien decided that the new car was too new to go fast and he took Bianchi’s old one, and though he got down to 2 min. 07.8 sec., a mere two-tenths faster than the head mechanic, Bianchi recorded 2 min. 08 sec. with the new car, an identical time to his best of the day before! So Gendebien finished practice not knowing whether he was on his head or his heels. Another driver who finished practice on his heels, but might well have been on his head, was young Bristow, for though he recorded third best time overall with 2 min. 04.3 sec., it was only as a result of some very untidy driving, using full-opposite lock, bumping kerbs and cutting-up the grass verges, whereas Brabham was fourth fastest with 2 min. 05.2 sec. in a brilliant exhibition of complete control over his Cooper, and proving that the present F.2 car has sufficient horsepower to indulge in controlled power-slides, in spite of what Schell and some other drivers tell the daily paper motoring correspondents. The two Porsches of Moss and Bonnier were easily fastest of all in practice, and after recording 2 min. 03.8 sec. Moss decided he had done enough and packed up, but just before practice ended Bonnier went out again and did 2 min. 03.6 sec., which caught Moss on the wrong foot. One need hardly mention that fastest of the owner-driver Coopers was Trintignant, with sixth place overall, the little Frenchman thoroughly enjoying this return to road racing; but the most outstanding driver in the second practice session was Scotland’s Jim Clark. After being kept back while Ireland and Stacey were ministered to, Chapman finally let his new-boy out in the prototype car and after a few exploratory laps he recorded 2 min. 06 sec., fifth fastest overall and easily the fastest Lotus. Needless to say, the car was immediately taken away from him and he was given Ireland’s new car, which, like Gendebien’s Cooper, “was too new to go fast yet”! Watching Clark through some of the corners was a real pleasure for he flicked the car into a slide on approaching and took the bend with all four wheels sliding, sitting back and looking comfortable, relaxed and confident; rather like Tony Brooks, an artist more than a beef and brawn driver such as Bristow.
In spite of having made first and second fastest times the two Porsche drivers were both agreed that their “souped-up” sports ant were not as fast on the straights as the Coopers, while everyone knew that the Porsche drum brakes could not be as good as the Cooper disc brakes, yet it was generally agreed that the circuit was not essentially a “drivers’ circuit,” so the problem was to discover how the Porsches were so much quicker on lap times. Nobody seemed interested in a study of torque-curves, gear ratios, weight, and cornering power, or for that matter a close and detailed study of time and distance.
Not surprisingly, Goethals was too slow with his sports RSK Porsche to qualify, and Marsh and Ballisat dead-heated for last place of the F.2 cars, being half a second slower than Seidel, so both were eliminated, the remaining 18 cars being accepted for the starting grid.
Both practice days had been cold and windy, with slight rain as Saturday’s session closed, and Sunday saw no improvement, there being a strong and cold cross-wind blowing on the pits and the skies were dull and ominous. The race was arranged to be run in two heats of 35 laps each, or 159 kilometres, the grid for the first start being on practice times and that for the second being on the finishing order in Heat 1. The final classification to be decided by the addition of points gained in each heat, points equalling the finishing position, so that two wins would net one point each, giving a total of two, and lowest total was the winner. In the case of a tie on points race times were to be taken into account. Before the racing began a parade of advertising vehicles went round the circuit, followed by three red, three yellow and three black VWs, running in square formation to form the Belgian flag, and these were followed by 18 drophead Porsches, each one containing one of the competing drivers. On returning to the pits the drivers were then allowed to make one lap of the circuit in their racing cars as a reconnaissance before lining up on the starting grid as follows:
Almost as the flag went up Tony Marsh noticed that Piper was not on the grid, so being first reserve he dashed off and got his Cooper to join on the end of the grid, but while he was doing this Piper arrived. When Marsh got to the rear of the grid he found it full, but at that moment the flag dropped and away everyone went, so he joined in. Schell made a terrific jump-start from row three, while Gendebien was slow off the mark and Seidel stalled. As the pack of cars got to the first left-hand corner Gendebien struck one of Flockhart’s rear wheels, which projected him into Lewis, and the Scotsman’s Cooper rode right over the other one and finished up going backwards off the course with a bent suspension, while Gendebien spun to a standstill and Lewis found himself with a punctured rear tyre. The rest of the field were away by now, with the two Porsches, Bonnier leading, heading the two Yeoman Credit Coopers, and as the two German cars went down the back straight side by side it was very obvious that they were far faster than the Coopers. Trintignant was leading Brabham and the rest of the pack, while Clark was leading the Lotus team, and after 15 cars had gone by Gendebien appeared, haying restarted after his spin, and Lewis limped into the pits to fit a new wheel and rejoin the race two laps in arrears. Marsh was racing in amongst the tail-enders and Seidel had expired, so there were 17 cars circulating now. For three laps Bonnier set the pace, with Moss waiting his opportunity to pass, and Bristow was trying harder than he knew to hold on to the two Porsches. Schell, on the other hand, wisely settled for fourth place and let the others go, driving sensibly within his limits, but he was being pressed by Trintignant, Brabham and Clark. As the leaders rounded the last corner on the third lap the inevitable happened and Bristow had a wild and uncontrollable spin, luckily avoiding contact with any hard objects, and by the time he restarted, the whole field, with the exception of Gendebien and Lewis, had gone by. On the same lap Schell was overcome by his challengers and the order was now Bonnier, Moss, Brabham, Trintignant, Clark, Schell, Stacey and Bianchi, with the rest spread out behind them. On lap four Moss took the lead and on the next lap Clark’s Lotus sounded flat as he passed the pits and he was not seen again for a rod came out through the side of the brand-new Climax engine. The two Porsches were quite uncatchable and a large gap was appearing between Bonnier and Brabham, while Trintignant was pulling away from Schell; then came another gap before Stacey and Bianchi appeared having a close battle, hotly followed by Ireland, who was being harried splendidly by Campbell-Jones. At the end of the field Bristow was gaining ground rapidly, only to spin yet again, this time on the corner after the start, and right at the back Gendebien and Lewis were having lonely drives.
On lap eight, as Stacey and Bianchi arrived at the hairpin joining the motor road, the Belgian’s gear-change gave trouble so that he missed a gear and, being unable to stop, he ran into the Lotus which was just turning the corner, and wrote off its off-side front suspension. Clark’s Lotus had expired at this part of the circuit, so Stacey limped back to the pits to retire with Clark sitting on the tail, and Bianchi continued at the end of the field. Moss was now comfortably in the lead and by 10 laps had a 3-sec. lead over Bonnier and 9 sec. over Brabham, and the race settled into a procession, slightly enlivened by a close race between Ireland and Campbell-Jones for sixth place and the regaining of ground by Bristow, who was now in ninth place just behind Frere.
A few spots of rain began to fall but had no effect on the race. Piper retired when oil from his gearbox leaked onto his inboard rear brakes and nearly asphyxiated him, Schlesser had gear-change trouble which eliminated him, and Bianchi retired for a similar reason. By 20 laps Moss had a 6-sec. lead over Bonnier and more than half a minute over Brabham, but he could not slow as Bonnier was showing no signs of letting up. Bristow was now close behind the Ireland/Campbell-Jones race, which he proceeded to break up by ramming Campbell-Jones in a rear wheel and spinning him round, luckily without damage. He then passed Ireland without causing any more trouble and was in sixth position behind Schell. The procession of the leaders continued with regularity, gradually lapping the tail-enders, and it was noticeable that when Schell lapped Lewis, who had been running a lonely race after his delay at the start, Lewis speeded up and kept station with Schell until the end of the race. On lap 26 Bristow was missing from sixth place and he came by later with his engine misfiring, a main jet having become choked, and rather than stop at this late stage in the race he continued at reduced speed and was passed by Frere. At the same time Ireland began to have gear-selection trouble and slowed considerably, leaving Campbell-Jones comfortably in fifth place. On lap 29 Bonnier had lost a lot of ground to Moss and he came past the pits at greatly reduced speed with the engine sounding horribly flat and with a very worried look on his face. On the next lap Brabham and Trintignant had both passed the ailing Porsche, which then expired altogether, and everyone moved up a place. Moss now had nearly a minute lead over Brabham and for the remainder of the 35 laps he dropped his lap speed from around 2 rnin. 04 sec. to 2 min. 10 sec. and came home winner of the first heat. Although Bristow finished eighth and Marsh ninth they were both disqualified and eliminated from the results, Bristow for receiving outside assistance after his first spin and Marsh for not being authorised to start at all.
Before the start of Heat 2 there was a break while cars were serviced and made ready for the second race, which varied from filling up with fuel for some, to feverish work for others, such as Lotus, who lowered the axle ratio on Ireland’s car and rebuilt Stacey’s damaged suspension with parts from Clark’s car. The Porsche factory made great play of refuelling Bonnier’s car, saying he had had clutch trouble and would restart, but when the time came there was only the Moss car on the grid to represent Stuttgart. Bristow tried to get on the grid with the Yeoman Credit car, but money doesn’t always count and the organisers stood by their decision to refuse him permission to start and the car was removed. Flockhart was allowed to start after the incident in the first heat, and altogether there were eleven survivors on the grid, as follows, the order being that of finishing in Heat 1:
As the start was given rain was pouring down, making the drivers extremely cautious and Moss was having trouble selecting first gear, and in the excitement he took off in third gear and got completely left behind, being last away. By the end of the opening lap he had passed four cars and was lying 10th, but meanwhile Brabham was away in the lead, followed by Trintignant and Gendebien, with Ireland in fourth place. With spray streaming from the wheels the leaders appeared at the end of lap two and Ireland “did a Bristow” and spun, having to wait while the whole field went by, with Moss now in fourth place. Although he had dealt easily with the also-rans Moss could make no impression on the leaders, for on the streaming wet roads the Porsche was proving a real handful and it was taking all the courage and skill of Moss to keep it pointing the right way and to stay ahead of Stacey. Gendebien seemed very at home in the wet and took second place from Trintignant and closed on Brabham, while Flockhart retired and Ireland was losing ground all the time and eventually retired. Stacey ran out of fuel due to a carburetter leak, so that there were only seven cars left running, in the order, Brabham, Gendebien, Trintignant, Moss, Schell, Frere, Campbell-Jones and Lewis.
By half-distance the rain had ceased and the high wind dried the track rapidly, and first Brabham drew away from Gendebien and then Moss began to pull back two or three seconds a lap on Brabham. By 20 laps he was down to 24 sec. and on lap 23 he was right behind Trintignant. On lap 25 the Porsche was in second place, dealing with Trintignant and Gendebien in one go, and at the same time the Frenchman passed the Belgian, and by now Moss was only 16 sec. behind Brabham, but there the gap stayed, for all Moss had to do now was to finish a close second and he would win the overall event on the addition of total times. Although the roads were drying they were not completely dry and lap times were down to 2 min. 20 sec., and with only two laps to go Moss was 14 sec. down on Brabham, but on lap 34, as the Porsche accelerated out of a hairpin in first gear, the gear-selector jumped out and Moss spun round. He had difficulty in getting the lever into first gear and had to restart in third, and all this messing about allowed Trintignant to go by into second place, and with only one lap to go Moss had no hope of catching the fleet Frenchman, who was driving another faultless race which many younger drivers would do well to emulate. With Moss finishing third the general classification was decided, Brabham was outright winner with two points in Heat 1 and one point in Heat 2, totalling three, and Moss had a total of four with one plus three.
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The circuit of Heysel is real road racing and most appropriate for this advancing age is part of a motor road system. The layout of having the pits on a separate road worked admirably.
One thing about International races on the Continent of Europe is that they are truly International. The Bruxelles G.P. had British, German, Swedish, French, Belgian, Australian and American drivers taking part.
Funny how certain drivers who complain about the 1961 Formula cars being dangerous, happily race in the present Formula 2 cars which have almost identical performance.
What a stir new young drivers are causing this year. First Surtees at Oulton Park, now Clark at Bruxelles, though it is to be hoped that Chapman will have the decency to withdraw Clark from Formula Junior now that he has demonstrated his true ability.
Would it be rude to suggest that Yeoman Credit enter Bristow for stock-car racing in future and leave Formula 2 to tidy young drivers like Lewis and Campbell-Jones.
Brabham is a real menace to potential winners. He makes no fuss and causes no trouble but just gets on quietly with the job in hand and before you realise it is out in front.
The R.A.C.B. and Les Sports looked after the Press splendidly, while Cinzano and Dunlop provided them with pens, pencils and notepads—most thoughtful.
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Notes On The Cars At Bruxelles
The Lotus team were out in full force with three rear-engined Formula 2 cars, the original prototype and two brand new ones, the two new cars having fibreglass bodies whereas the prototype car had an aluminium body. All three had standard twin-cam Climax engines and Lotus five-speed gearboxes and one of the new cars had the new pressure die-cast Weber 45DCOE carburetters, this being used in the race by Clark, and the other two cars, driven by Ireland and Stacey, were fitted with 45DCO3 Weber carburetters. Apart from these details the cars were identical. There was one further Lotus, the front-engined car of Piper. The Porsche factory were still keeping an eye on the Walker car, though since being rebuilt after Siracusa it had been delivered to Dorking for a couple of days and the Walker mechanics had removed the Porsche gear-gate for the six-speed box and fitted one they had made for the Moss 25012 Maserati some years ago, this having the gear lever spring-loaded away from the two left-hand slots, which were reverse and first on the Maserati and are first and second on the Porsche box, there being no reverse gear. As well as this car the factory team had a brand new car for Bonnier to drive, identical to the Walker car, which Moss was driving, except for the colour being silver and the engine having 46 DMP Weber carburetters in place of the 48 IDM used on the Moss car at Siracusa. The local driver Goethals had a sports RSK with central driving seat.
The rest of the entry of 21 cars that arrived for practice was made up entirely of Coopers all with Climax engines, headed by Brabham with his own much-modified car with a five-speed gearbox, while another car with a five-speed gearbox using the standard Cooper casing was that of Lewis, this car also being fitted with an electric fuel pump in place of the normal mechanical pump driven from a camshaft. Another worthwhile addition on this car, entered by H. and L. Motors, was a starter motor operated by plugging in two cables from a battery trolley into sockets in the side of the body; thereby saving much chaos and confusion on the starting grid. The Yeoman Credit team had their two Formula 2 Coopers, being driven by Schell and Bristow, the former having a Formula 1 chassis with double rear wishbones and an engine running on S.U. carburetters and the latter having an engine on Weber 50DC03 carburetters giving more power, but fitted in an earlier chassis with single rear wishbones, thereby sharing out the good things in the team between the two drivers. The Equipe National Beige fielded three Coopers, their two original ones and a brand new one, all being quite standard apart from recognition colour stripes on the noses and they were driven by Gendebien, Frere and Bianchi, the lastnamed also being in charge of the tuning and preparation of the cars. The Alan Brown Cooper had been straightened out since its Siracusa accident and Flockhart was once more driving it and amongst the other private-owners with Coopers the German driver Seidel had his ex-Atkins car, Marsh was driving his early car, now fitted with disc brakes; Campbell-Jones arrived with his last year’s car on a trailer behind a Mk. VIII Jaguar and Ballisat was driving Gibson’s Cooper, which arrived on a trailer behind a Mk. VI Bentley, and the Frenchman Schlesser had his Cooper on a trailer behind a DS19 Citroen. To complete the Cooper list there was the ex-Walker car of Trintignant, as raced at Siracusa but now with the French tri-colour painted in stripes across the nose, its Colotti five-speed and reverse gearbox giving no trouble at all. For this race it was entered by the Scuderia Centro-Sud but as the Italian team did not arrive it was still being looked after by the Walker team.—D. S. J.