Some French Sports-Car Racing

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76

Agen, September 27th.

Quite often at French meetings short races are held before the main event, for national drivers in production cars or modified production cars, and form the first step to better things, just as the club meetings at Silverstone do, the only difference being that the French novice can start his racing on a proper road circuit instead of the wide open spaces of an aerodrome. The next step up from these events are international sports-car races which are semi-profeesional affairs, supported almost entirely by national drivers, though open to other countries, these events being the intermediary before tackling things such as Le Mans, Reims, or Monaco. It is in this intermediary category that the Agen race fell and the entry contained most of the French semi-professionals and a single English entry, that of Nigel Mann with a DB2 Aston Martin.

Whereas the national races are pretty amateurish in all ways, the middle class usually has a far better idea of how to motor-race, added to which the cars range from works machines on loan to good production cars. The race in question had an entry of ten for the 40 laps of the little town-circuit in Agen, of 1.7 kilometres to the lap. After practice the front row contained Roger Loyer with a 2.3-litre Gordini, Mann’s DB2 and Picard with a good 2-litre Ferrari coupe, as distinct from a production 2-litre. Behind came Balsa with a Veritas fitted with a coupe top and Dieu with a 1½-litre Gordini coupe, one of the 1950 Le Mans cars, and in the third row was Bourelly with a similar car, Carlus with a Light Fifteen Citroen, cut-and-shut and fitted with the body from a baby Fiat, and very neatly carried out, and Profichet with a 328 B.M.W. fitted with a hideous saloon body of his own conception. To complete the list came George Houel, the motor-cyclist, with a Lancia Aurelia Gran Turismo and Jacques Peron in his 1,100-c.c. Osca, with which he won the recent Tour of France.

As a race the event was not spectacular but Loyer demonstrated the ability of the Gordini very effectively and the 2.3-litre car ran away from all the opposition. After starting off in second place Mann let Bourelly get by, but he managed to keep the Ferrari at bay, though it chased him hard. Peron had to start in the back row due to not practising and it took him some time to work his way through the field, but by half-distance he had caught both the Ferrari and the Aston Martin, but could not make any impression on the two leading Gordinis. The Aston Martin gradually began to overheat and eventually had to stop for more water, which let the Ferrari take fourth place, and then before it could complete the full distance it got too hot to be safe and stopped altogether. Loyer drove a nice steady and regular race to chalk up a much needed victory for Gordini, and Bourelly clinched it by finishing second ahead of the Osca and the Ferrari.

Results:

1st: R. Loyer (Gordini 2.3-litre) 48 min. 28.1 sec. 87.798 k.p.h.

2nd: R. Bourelly (Gordini 1½-litre) 47 min. 2 sec. 2 laps behind

3rd: J. Peron (Osca 1,100 c.c.) 47 min. 13 sec. 2 laps behind

Fastest lap: R. Loyer (Gordini) 1 min. 8 sec. — 90.00 k.p.h. 

Coupe du Salon

Montlhery, October 4th.

In much the same category as the Agen race was the Coupe du Salon for sports cars run on the Montlhery road circuit of 6.284 kilometres, which uses one half of the banked track and the flat part of the pure road circuit in the Montlhery grounds, the cars running off the Piste de Vitesse at a tangent to the banking and rejoining it on a similar tangent the other side. Being of a somewhat higher standing than the Agen race the entry was much larger and in addition to Loyer, Dieu, Bourelly, with their Gordinis, Balsa and Peron with their same Veritas and Osca cars, respectively, there was John Simon, the American, with a C-type Jaguar, Grignard, Levegh and Blanc with 4½-litre Talbots, Macklin with the Jaguar, H.W.M., and Auriac with a very neat but not very fast 3½-litre Delahaye. These last six and Loyer comprised the over-2-litre class, while the 1,100-2,000-c.c. class contained, in addition to those mentioned, GueIfi with a 2-litre Gordini, Brown with the Cooper-Bristol, Gast, a Dutch driver, with a special TD M.G., and a local driver with a Fiat Special. The rest of the field was made up of an assortment of D.B.s, Monopoles and Panhards.

The circuit was as fast as the Agen one was slow, and both Brown and Macklin arrived unsuitably geared, while the Gordinis and Talbots were obviously very conversant with the Montlhery circuit. On practice times the cars were lined up on the grid for a normal Grand Prix start and Loyer, Grignard and Levegh occupied the front row, with the others spaced out behind in ever decreasing capacities and speeds. Macklin and Grignard leapt away into the lead, while Levegh made a hesitant start, and at the end of the first lap the dark blue Talbot and the green H.W.M. were way out on their own as they came down off the top of the banking at 130 m.p.h. That was the last seen of the green car for the engine cut out as it passed and it came to rest in the far distance with its coil lead adrift. After everyone had gone by Levegh arrived and stopped at the pits with a broken rear axle, so that two of the fastest cars in the race were out after only the first of the twenty-four laps had been covered.

Grignard was now quite unchallenged and thundered on as fast as ever until near halfway, when he ran out of brakes and rammed the bank. No damage was done to the mechanism but he lost a lot of time at the pits putting the brakes right and this let Loyer get the lead, from Simon’s Jaguar. Blanc and Guelfi were busy scrapping together, the Gordini going very high on the banking and making up on the Talbot by pulling off in a shallow dive down the slope, while behind them Brown was having a lonely ride in the Cooper-Bristol, being quite unable to keep up with the Gordinis.

Farther back Peron (Osca) and Dietz (Gordini) were having a good tussle in spite of the little Osca being 400 c.c. down on the Gordini, and although Grignard rejoined the race he had lost too much time to catch any of the leading group. For the second week running Loyer marked up a victory for Gordini, with one of the neat little all-enveloping two-seaters, on the Grand Prix chassis with six-cylinder engine, this one being a 78 by 78 mm. of 2.3 litres capacity. The Jaguar which finished second, driven by the American Simon, was a quite standard XK120C, and following it was Blanc with his Talbot which started life as a single-seater G.P. car and was converted into a two-seater with all-enveloping body, now in rather rough condition. The North African driver Andre Guelfi chased him hard with his Gordini, similar to Loyer’s except for a 75 by 75-mm. engine of 2 litres, and finished only 2 sec. behind the Talbot. Then Alan Brown finished fifth all on his own a lap late, and Peron just beat the coupe Gordini, two laps behind the leader.

The rest of the field straggled in varying numbers of laps behind the leader. While he had been running, Grignard recorded fastest lap and Macklin would have quite likely improved on it as he was about to overtake the Talbot when the H.W.M. died on him.

Results:

1st: R. Loyer (Gordini 2.3-litre) 39 min. 16 sec. 152.667 k.p.h.

2nd: J. Simon (Jaguar 3.5-litre) 1 hr. 0 min. 20 sec.

3rd: F. Blanc (Talbot 4.5-litre) 1 hr. 0 min. 48 sec.

*

Volkswagen O.C.

The Volkswagen Owners Club held a Gymkhana on October 4th at Whelpley Hill in Hertfordshire and it was a thoroughly pleasant day’s sport.

Tests were designed so as not to put Volkswagen owners who had not previously competed to too much trouble. The winner of the event was Sgt. C. Lendrum of the United States Air Force, who used a 1953 model, runners-up being Mr. Michaels in a 1948-49 model and Mr. Ellis who used the same car.

Although the entry was not large, in view of the fact that the Club is as yet small, the event appeared to have been enjoyed by everyone.

The Club is planning one or two static meetings this winter, comprising film shows and the odd get-together to exchange personal experiences.

Volkswagen owners are invited to get in touch with Mr. R. Woolf, 30, Foscote Road, Hendon, London, N.W.4.

Welcome!

Vacuum Oil Company announces that there was a decrease in the price of Mobilgas (regular grade only) of ½d. per gallon from midnight, October 6th. There will be no change in the price of Mobilgas Special, the premium grade.

The price of Mobil Diesel will also be reduced by ¼d. per gallon for deliveries in bulk.

These Prices are applicable in all price zones and apply to both the wholesale and retail trade.

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