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GP de l'ACF, Dan Gurney & Porsche: 50 years ago


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#1 AAA-Eagle

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 19:15

Yes, it's 50 years ago today that Dan Gurney and Porsche made the history... They scored their first WDC wins as Dan drove home first in the 'Grand Prix l'A.C.F.' on the Rouen-Les-Essarts circuit lapping the field twice!

The French GP returned to Rouen for the first time since 1957. The weekend before the event most of the F1 regulars took part in a non-championship Reims Grand Prix, which was won by Bruce McLaren in his Cooper. At Rouen the field was rejoined by Porsche which had missed the Belgian GP because of a strike, but Ferrari failed to appear because of industrial action in Italy.

Qualifying resulted in Jim Clark setting the fastest time for Team Lotus with Graham Hill's BRM and McLaren's Cooper alongside on the front row. On the second row Jack Brabham's private Lotus was beside John Surtees's Reg Parnell Lola while the third row featured Dan Gurney's Porsche and the two British Racing Partnership Lotuses: Masten Gregory's BRM-engined car being slightly faster than Innes Ireland's Climax-engined one.

Hill took the lead with Surtees, Clark, McLaren and Brabham chasing him. McLaren dropped out after 10 laps when he spun because of a gear-selection problem and crashed. Brabham retired at the same moment when his suspension failed but McLaren did manage to get going again and spent a long time in the pits having the car repaired. On lap 13 Surtees pitted because of fuel feed problems and he dropped down to eighth place, leaving Hill to be chased by Clark, Gurney, Gregory and Jo Bonnier (Porsche). Gregory and Bonnier soon dropped out of the running with mechanical troubles.

On lap 30 Hill was hit by backmarker Jack Lewis when the privateer Cooper driver suffered brake failure. Clark took the lead but he was in trouble with his suspension and stopped three laps later. This put Hill back in the lead but in the closing laps his BRM began to misfire and he dropped quickly back, leaving Gurney to take the lead. He duly won his first and Porsche's first World Championship victory. Tony Maggs survived to get second in his Cooper while third place went to Ritchie Ginther's BRM, who drove the final laps controlling the throttle by hand after the cable came loose from the pedal. Surtees struggled across the line with gearbox trouble and then slowed dramatically, Maurice Trintignant was caught by surprise by this and had to swerve his Rob Walker Lotus to avoid hitting the Lola. In doing so, the Frenchman moved into the path of Trevor Taylor's Lotus and there was a nasty accident - although both drivers escaped without injury.


Dan, you are my Hero! :up:


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#2 Barry Boor

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 19:56

Is he allowed to be your hero as well as mine? :)

Lovely date to remember, thanks for alerting.

I regularly watch my Duke video of that race.

#3 jj2728

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 20:38

:up:

#4 D-Type

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 20:43

This proved to be Porsche's only F1 win. I find it surprising that they withdrew when they did. In 1961 the 718 had proved to be as good as the British 4-cylinder Climax powered cars but inferior to the Ferrari Dino 156. So they introduced the 804 for 1962. Although not quite on the pace, thenew car was good enough to win in France. I would have expected that with that result to encourage them they would have gone on to develop the car further in 1963. After all it was a new car and obviously there was potential for more.

... But instead Porsche withdrew from GP racing.

#5 Ralliart

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 07:01

Seems to me that the Gurney/Porsche partnership was doomed from the start. He admitted that he "felt like a giraffe" sitting up high in the cockpit. Logically, not good aerodynamically. Surely there was a smaller-in-physical stature driver available to solve that problem. Gurney admitted he lucked into his French GP win. His win at Solitude was different and, surely, should be celebrated more by purists. Judging by Porsche's actions following '62, their decision to pull out of GP racing was a correct one.

#6 Tim Murray

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 08:10

His win at Solitude was different and, surely, should be celebrated more by purists.

With no works BRMs, Coopers or Ferraris present at Solitude, the only significant opposition to Porsche came from Team Lotus. In my view the high spot of their season was Gurney's 8' 47.2" pole position lap at the Nürburgring, although I think this owed a lot more to Gurney than to the Porsche.

#7 Barry Boor

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 12:03

Never was a truer word spoken Mr. Murray. BTW, I never have to look that lap time up, do you? :)

#8 Tim Murray

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 12:25

:up:

It must be the nature of the 'Ring. I've a number of significant lap times lodged irremovably in my brain - 9'46.2"; 9'17.4 (of course); 8'55.2"; 8'47.2"; 8'04.1; 7'07.0 etc - but very few from other circuits.

#9 arttidesco

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 13:01

Judging by Porsche's actions following '62, their decision to pull out of GP racing was a correct one.


Being a heathen who's interest was awakened long after these events became folk lore I never understood why Porsche even entertained the idea of entering open wheel racing, unless they were thinking of selling customer cars ?


#10 Barry Boor

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 13:51

Porsche had had a 1.5 litre F.2 car for a few years and I think it was more a case of F.1 coming to them rather than the other way around.

#11 Allan Lupton

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 19:19

Ah Rouen in 1962!
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I was there and what's more I went on to Solitude and said afterwards how boring it was that Gurney in his Porsche had been the winner at both - little knowing that they wouldn't do so again and that I had not only witnessed Porsche's first GP win but that half a century later they wouldn't have had another.

PS for Barry: the 1½ litre F2 Porsche was a four-cylinder like their road cars. The GP cars were very different!


#12 D-Type

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 19:39

I can see Barry's point. Porsche made highly effective 1.5 litre sports cars. When the 1,5 litre Formula 2 came along they adapted their sports cars and were competitive so they produced what was effectively an open wheeled version of their sports car which they ran in Formula 2.
But, in 1962 they made a serious committed attempt at Formula 1. Having thus committed themselves, they withdrew after a year. It's the fact that they effectively gave up after just one year of wholehearted effort I find surprising.

Suppose they had given the 917 just a year? :confused:

#13 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 19:50

To my knowledge Porsche gave up F1 in 1962 because they were diappointed that their 8cyl. boxer gave too little power .

#14 Roger Clark

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 22:10

To my knowledge Porsche gave up F1 in 1962 because they were diappointed that their 8cyl. boxer gave too little power .

Porsche continued to develop the flat eight in 1963 and achieved power and torque figures equal to the contemporary Climax V8. I think that the main reason for Porsche's withdrawal was cost. Karl Ludvigsen wrote that Grand Prix racing absorbed 3% of the company's gross sales in 1961-62. They were also on the point of putting the 911 into production, which must have demanded a lot of technical resources.

Those who believe that the engine is an important component of a grand Prix car do not see the 1962 French Grand Pris as Porsche's last win in that category.

#15 Barry Boor

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 05:53

Do you think pole position might have been different if a certain Scottish driver had managed a full lap in the dry?


No.