Saturday, December 29, 2007

Might Have Been Team

Although Alf Francis' book Racing Mechanic 1948-58 is generally considered to be one of the classics of Motor Racing literature, the Polish born spannerman himself is a figure of some controversy. To many he is one of the great characters of post-war racing, an intuitive engineer and someone whose hard work and determination kept the Rob Walker team on the road. For others he was "a mechanic with ambitions above his station" whose lash-ups were responsible for Moss's career ending 1962 crash.

In any case by the mid-60s Alf had removed himself to Modena where he went into partnership with Italian transmission specialist Valerio Colotti. For the 1965 season Ecurie Alf Francis purchased the old BRP transporter and two Cooper T72's with the intention of competing in the recently revived Formula 2 category. With Colotti transmission and an Alfa Romeo engine developed by Giancarlo Rebecchi, it was announced that the cars would be driven by Innes Ireland, Jo Siffert and a young Frenchman, Bernard Plaisance.

Innes and Siffert were listed to compete at the Oulton Park Spring Trophy meeting in early April but the cars failed to appear. This was to be the story for the rest of the year, non-attendance, non-qualification and just a couple of starts for Siffert and Plaisance. A 10th place for Seppi in the Pergusa Grand Prix, a circuit where a week later the Swiss driver would beat Clark in a closely fought Formula One race, was the only finish that Alf's team could manage.

Innes Ireland never got to turn a wheel in anger in the revived Formula 2 races of the mid and late Sixties. Alf Francis had flourished in the buccaneering 1950s but in the more technical atmosphere of the 1960s his time had passed.

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