Circuit Of Porrentruy — (July 18th)

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With new Cooper Formula III cars being exported to the various Continental Countries, many of the meetings for these cars are proving true international battles and English competitors no longer have a monopoly. At Porrentruy, just over the Swiss border, Leston was the only English competitor, driving his Mk. VIII Cooper-Norton, but he was strongly opposed by Adolf Lang and Ahrens, the two German drivers with new Coopers, the American Hutchinson driving one of Lex Beels’ Cooper-Nortons, and a Swiss driver, Gilomen, also in a new Mk. VIII Cooper-Norton. The rest of the sixteen competitors were made up from numerous early Coopers, all with Norton engines, and home-made “specials,” from rather crude French-built ones to the beautifully made ”special” of the Swiss driver Keller.

The 3.6-kilometre circuit is situated just outside the town of Porrentruy and passes through the village-of Courtedoux, where the road climbs steeply to its highest point, and then runs down a fast descent out of the village to the flat section in the neighbouring valley. Divided into two Heats and Final, the first 10-lap Heat was run in pouring rain for the first few laps and Leston, Hutchinson and Ahrens battled for the lead, the American leading for most of the time. On the penultimate lap Ahrens stopped to make adjustments and Leston oiled a plug within sight of the finish, so that Hutchinson had an easy win, the Englishman getting going again and completing the 10th lap in second place, followed by the German driver Weeke in a home-made J.A.P.-special.

Heat two, now on dry roads again, provided an easy victory for Lang, but the real interest was in Gilomen, who had made a bad start. The arrangement for starting was that the whole field followed an exotic-looking Farina-bodied Nash-Healey for a lap and then got away to a good rolling start. Gilomen was late in starting the initial lap and could not catch the field by the time the start was given, but after that he went incredibly fast and romped his way through the field, battling for two laps with the German driver Kunke, before getting away from him on the last lap and finishing second.

Having had the “1954-Sunday-rainstorm,” the weather was kind for the Final, though a strong cross-wind was blowing, and once more the field lined up behind the orange Nash-Healey. There were four German drivers, four Swiss, and one each from England. France and America/Holland, a truly international field. As in the Heat, the Cooper-Norton of Gilomen was reluctant to start and by the time the rolling start reached the line he was still some two hundred yards behind the last man. Out in front Leston was in the lead, with Lang and Hutchinson right on his tail, and on the third lap Lang nipped by into the lead. Until lap 10 these three had a furious wheel-to-wheel battle and then Hutchinson overdid a bend and hit the straw bales, stalling his engine, which left the other two on their own, and on laps 12, 13 and 14 Leston drew away a little, gaining some 100 yards on the silver Cooper. Meanwhile Gilomen had worked his way through the remainder of the field and while Hutchinson was restarting his engine the Swiss took third place, much to the joy of the locals. On the 15th and last lap, Leston looked a certain winner but as he came down the hill out of Courtedoux his engine broke its big-end and it was Lang who arrived the winner, followed by Gilomen and then the unfortunate Leston, quite out of breath, having pushed his Cooper the last half-mile amid the applause and encouragement of the crowd.

Results:
Circuit Of Porrentruy — Formula III — Heat. and Final

1st: A. Lang (Cooper-Norton), 31 min. 35.4 sec. … 103.603 k.p.h.
2nd R. Gilomen (Cooper-Norton), 32 min. 14.3 sec.
3rd: L. Leston (Cooper-Norton), 32 min. 23.1 sec.

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