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From the Motor Sport Archive
The Pau Grand Prix took place on Easter Monday over the 2.769 kilometre course which is one of the few remaining of the street-race type, and furthermore one which has not been altered in any way since 1935. Two practice periods were allowed for the twelve competitors, the maximum deemed safe on the narrow twisting circuit, and it is a sign of the times that only two private owners were accepted, Rosier and Manzon with 1953 type 2 1/2-litre Ferraris, both Frenchmen at that. There were three works Ferraris, all of the 1953 type, to be driven by Farina, Gonzalez and Trintignant, three Maseratis, Marimon with the new car he had at Syracuse and Schell and Mieres with 1953 models fitted with the latest 2 1/2-litre engines. To complete the round dozen there were four Gordinis, outwardly the same as in 1953 but with the six-cylinder engines enlarged to 2 1/2-litres, and they were handled by Behra, Bayol, Eugene Martin, and the Belgian driver Pilette whose car was painted the national yellow.
On the first afternoon Farina was the man of the moment, probably very conscious of the fact that he was the only Italian driver competing, and he was unbeatable, setting up fastest practice time in 1 min. 36.8 sec., which easily beat Ascari's 2-litre record of 1 min. 38.9 sec. Gonzalez was also in good form and beat the old record, but could not approach Farina, while Behra was going very fast in the Gordini being third fastest; both his and Bayol's cars were fitted with anti-roll bars back and front and the cockpit of Behra's car had been fitted with a scuttle fairing embracing a curved perspex screen and high cockpit sides. None of the Maseratis appeared for the first official practice as the lorry had been held up at the French frontier while the paperwork was sorted out, but they arrived by the end of the afternoon and were allowed to practice after the motorcycles had finished their turn. Marimon overdid things and hit the straw bales, dented the nose cowling and grille, but continued after the cowling had been bent clear of the steering, and Mieres was lapping steadily his car being painted the Argentinian blue and yellow. Schell's car looked most unusual, being painted French pale-blue, and both these cars were 1953 chassis with 1/4-elliptic rear springs and double radius rods, but fitted with identical engines to the 1954 car of Marimon. Schell's car was fitted with an additional fuel tank on the right of the driving seat. The two private runners were not very happy, Rosier's engine giving trouble, it being a new one in his last year's chassis, and Manzon was going slowly in the car he had at Syracuse not, as first believed, Rosier's old car but one of last year's 2 1/2-litres that Trintignant had got from the works before being offered an official team car.